What phrases do you say each day to your kids? Which ones do you want them to remember?
In the years since my grandmother has been gone, I am still inspired to notice the good things in life when I remember the way she would pause at those good moments and say, “This, now, this is good.” To this day I can hear my mother encouraging me when I try new things. Her voice of confidence from my childhood continues to give me confidence now.
And eighteen years after my dad died, I can still hear him, when I get too serious saying, “Lighten up, Lissy!” In moments of complete self-doubt and embarrassment, I still bolster myself by thinking of him singing, “Oops, you made a mistake, and you’re beautiful to me.”
All of these words of encouragement from my parents and grandparents have stayed with me.
What do you say that will stay with your kids for the rest of their lives?
Certainly, words can become meaningless when they aren’t followed with action, but nonetheless, words have great power. You can choose to add more positive ones to your days.
Coming up with a few encouraging words for kids or positive phrases to say tips the scales towards the kindness you want your kids to imitate.
You never know the words of encouragement from you that your kids will carry with them for years.
64 Positive Things to Say to Kids
May this list inspire you to turn to your child and say something like:
- You are loved
- You make me smile
- I think about you when we’re apart
- My world is better with you in it
- I will do my best to keep you safe
- Sometimes I will say no
- I have faith in you
- I know you can handle it
- You are creative
- Trust your instincts
- Your ideas are worthwhile
- You are capable
- You are deserving
- You are strong
- You can say no
- Your choices matter
- You make a difference
- Your words are powerful
- Your actions are powerful
- Your emotions may be powerful
- And you can still choose your actions
- You are more than your emotions
- You are a good friend
- You are kind
- You don’t have to like what someone is saying in order to treat them with respect
- Someone else’s poor behavior is not an excuse for your own
- You are imperfect
- So am I
- You can change your mind
- You can learn from your mistakes
- You can ask for help
- You are learning
- You are growing
- Growing is hard work
- I believe you
- I believe in you
- You are valuable
- You are interesting
- You are beautiful
- When you make a mistake, you are still beautiful
- Your body is your own
- You have say over your body
- You are important
- Your ideas matter
- You are able to do work that matters
- I see you working and learning every day
- You make a difference in my life
- I am curious what you think
- How did you do that?
- Your ideas are interesting
- You’ve made me think of things in a completely new way
- I’m excited to see what you do
- Thanks for helping me
- Thank you for contributing to our family
- I enjoy your company
- It’s fun to do things with you
- I’m glad you’re here
- I’m happy to talk with you
- I’m ready to listen
- I’m listening
- I’m proud of you
- I’m grateful you’re in my life
- You make me smile
- I love you
Encouraging Children with Words
Research has been done to show that the kind of praise that we give to our children can ultimately influence them and motivate them later in life. Therefore, when we utter these words of encouragement to our children, we want to focus on the effort rather than their talent.
The best thing you can do is show them encouragement when they try their best. It doesn’t matter if their abilities are top-notch or above others; they are looking for encouragement at that moment as they put their effort into the task at hand.
Choosing specific phrases to use can also help encourage them. Don’t generalize your words of encouragement too much. Be specific to what they are working to accomplish. If they are painting a picture, for example, focus on the different colors they have chosen rather than just saying good job.
You also want to be careful to avoid giving them TOO MUCH praise. Too much praise can actually result in negative effects down the line. They will begin to think that they no longer have to try to succeed and their self-confidence may be off the charts. Remember, as parents; we are looking to encourage them while making a positive impact.
The praise you offer your children should also be sincere and honest. If the praise you are offering doesn’t feel sincere, then they will likely not feel encouraged at all. The praise is ultimately discounted and can lead to a child to practice self-criticism.
When offering encouragement, you need to avoid controlling or conditional praise, as well. When you use praise and encouragement to control your child, then they think this approval and positivity depends solely on performance and great results. Self-worth is important for a child and can begin to develop as young as two years old.
Positive self-worth will ultimately equate to positive terms and higher self-esteem. When they view themselves having negative self-worth, they will also develop low self-esteem, and their success will be attributed in their mind to their success or failure and dependent on their abilities rather than their motivation to try.
You always want to avoid comparison praise too because instead of motivating them to work harder, it will end up backfiring. When comparing your child to others and praising them by comparison, they become vulnerable to setbacks they may experience in the future.
They will never stop comparing themselves to others when they fail, and they will become frustrated and begin to feel helpless while losing their motivation.
The Benefits of Encouragement
When we encourage our children with our positive words and affirmations, we are boosting their self-esteem, helping them learn to believe in themselves, assisting in developing their imagination and creativity, and also motivating them to continue to try hard and do their best in everything.
When children fail, it makes an impression; much, in the same way, this kind of positive encouragement can also make an impression. It has been said that positive reinforcement can help condition a child to continue to repeat the behavior they are praised for.
Sometimes the positive phrases might sound hokey, or when you say them over and over, you might wonder if they’re losing power, but here’s how I think about that: I hope that repetition means that some of them stick.
Years from now, when my children face a difficult job interview, a challenging conversation with their spouse or a day that seems like all of the ends are unraveling, my hope is that they’ll remember hearing me encouraging them, and their internal voice will say, “I have faith in you. I’m sure you can handle it. You are loved.”