Fill their buckets: encouraging words and phrases to say to your child
Parenting expert Amy McCready shares her encouraging words and phrases to say to your child – big or small.
Do you ever feel like the only words that come out of your mouth are direct orders? “Empty the trash, be nice to your sister, quit jumping on the couch!!!” A big part of preventing bad behaviour, however, is to provide encouraging words to reinforce good behaviour when you see it.
And a quick “good job” doesn’t cut it—in fact, phrases like “good boy,” “you’re so smart!” and “you’re the best on your team!” are not considered encouraging words. Instead of focusing on positive internal qualities, they put the emphasis on outward praise, which does nothing to promote good behavior in the future.
True encouraging words focus on the deed, not the doer. It motivates a child from the inside to demonstrate similar positive behavior in the future, and to value things like hard work, improvement, teamwork and perseverance.
Here are some encouraging words and phrases to say to your child:
Thanks for your help/ That was really helpful.
You should be proud of yourself!
Look at your improvement!
You worked really hard to get this room clean!
Thanks for helping set the table, that made a big difference.
I noticed you were really patient with your little brother.
What do you think about it?
That’s a tough one, but you’ll figure it out.
I love being with you.
You really put a smile on her face with your kind words!
That’s coming along nicely!
You really worked it out!
That’s a very good observation/question.
Thank you for your co-operation.
I see a very thorough job!
That’s what we call perseverance!
I can tell you really care.
You make it look easy!
You’ve really got the hang of it!
I can tell you spent a lot of time thinking this through.
I really feel like a team when we work like this!
The best part about using encouraging words with your kids is the glow of happiness you’ll see on their faces. After all, “Your hard work is really paying off!” says you noticed their work, while, “You’re so smart,” might be hard to live up to next time. Try a few of these encouraging words with your kids, and watch their behaviour—and effort—improve.
Amy McCready is the founder of positiveparentingsolutions.com