Use your words! 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:

Tiny HeartThanks for your help/ That was really helpful.

Tiny HeartYou should be proud of yourself!

Tiny HeartLook at your improvement!

Tiny HeartYou worked really hard to get this room clean!

Tiny HeartThanks for helping set the table, that made a big difference.

Tiny HeartI noticed you were really patient with your little brother.

Tiny HeartWhat do you think about it?

Tiny HeartThat’s a tough one, but you’ll figure it out.

Tiny HeartI love being with you.

Tiny HeartYou really put a smile on her face with your kind words!

Tiny HeartThat’s coming along nicely!

Tiny HeartYou really worked it out!

Tiny HeartThat’s a very good observation/question.

Tiny HeartThank you for your co-operation.

Tiny HeartI see a very thorough job!

Tiny HeartThat’s what we call perseverance!

Tiny HeartI can tell you really care.

Tiny HeartYou make it look easy!

Tiny HeartYou’ve really got the hang of it!

Tiny HeartI can tell you spent a lot of time thinking this through.

Tiny HeartI 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



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