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How to Use Words of Encouragement for Kids to Strengthen Your Parenting!

Intentionally thought out words of encouragement for kids will strengthen your parenting efforts, build lasting bonds with your children, and bolster family unity!

I want to talk to you about this today, because often times the fear of over-praising with empty words, choosing the wrong trait to compliment, or just plain ole’ doing it the wrong way, prevents parents from putting words of encouragement for kids to good use!

Being confidently armed with the knowledge of how to praise a child with words correctly, positive things to say to your child, and examples of the wrong way to praise will give you the skills you need to start building your child’s confidence and making sure she knows you are her biggest fan!

I firmly believe all of parenting is training. Done well and correctly, you’ll be intentionally training the right things and doing a great job raising even greater kids. Done incorrectly or as an afterthought (or with no thought at all) and you’ll be accidentally training a whole lotta wrong things.

Read more about child training here.

One of the most important aspects to properly using words of encouragement for kids is understanding the benefits the words provide.

They are more than letters strung together. The way you encourage and praise your child is a vital component to the family foundation you are building. This truth will reveal itself throughout the length of our conversation today. So, to start with, let’s talk about the benefits!

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beautiful mom and toddler son playing after mom spoke words of encouragement for kids

Benefits of Words Of Encouragement For Kids

Words of Encouragement for Kids Build Confidence

It’s far easier in the world we live to feel bad about oneself than to feel confident. We need not look far to find children and adults alike struggling with low self-worth, self-esteem, and confidence.

The positive, life-affirming, encouraging words you speak to your child will be a pillar to the self-assurance she develops throughout her youth. Read more about how to build a child’s self confidence here.

Words of Encouragement for Kids Solidify Value in Life

There are so many people in the world. Indeed, we are each just one in a sea of faces. Understanding individual value is a complex thing. While nothing can fill the God-sized hole in each of our hearts except the Creator Himself, parents are the Lord’s hands and feet to begin this process in their child’s life.

By correctly praising a child with words, you’ll drive home the value that you place upon your child’s life and his or her importance in your family!

Words of Encouragement for Kids Show You Believe in Them

Strategically and intentionally choosing encouraging words when your child is struggling demonstrates your belief in their ability to overcome and triumph. Your child needs to know you believe in him. The words you speak will either demonstrate that or not.

Words of Encouragement for Kids Provide Sense of Belonging

Deep within the heart of every human is the need to belong TO SOMETHING. Our desire, as parents committed to building strong families, is for our children to recognize that they belong in their family! That is their safe place. Their family is the one they were born into, on purpose and for a purpose.

Words of Encouragement for Kids Establish Identity!

I cannot concisely explain how important this is! Identity is yet another complicated aspect of the human condition. We all have an identity, yet so many struggle to find theirs.

The positive things you say to your child will push her closer to an identity that fills her soul. Nurturing the traits that make her, her, as well as vocalizing that you SEE her, support her journey to a healthy self-identity.

Words of Encouragement for Kids Model How to Speak Life

One of my favorite family experts, Joe Mcgee, says, “You don’t have to teach your children what’s ugly. When you teach what’s beautiful, they’ll recognize ugly when they see it.”

Parents like you and I want our children to speak positivity to others, edify, and to speak life. We should be their first and most influential models for this!

Words of Encouragement for Kids Become Their Inner Voice

I can’t tell you how many times I hear my dad’s voice in my head telling me how proud he is of me. He was never stingy with those words.

Consequently, when I hear them, I automatically think of the significant things I’ve accomplished in my life. His words of encouragement and my confidence regularly go hand in hand.

Words of Encouragement for Kids Set the Verbal Standard

This parenting truth goes back to the quote I shared in #6. When your child has been regularly spoken to with positive and encouraging words and phrases, she’ll be more likely to recognize and steer clear of verbal mistreatment. The power of words is great!

There is a whole lot of scripture dedicated to that fact.

There’s a reason “Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me” was made up, to begin with. Painful words hurt more than just about everything else.

Set the verbal standards for your child by speaking what is good, positive, and encouraging, and she’ll gravitate toward others who provide the same positive voice.

Words of Encouragement for Kids Aids Sibling Communication

Much the same as you model how your child can speak life to others, you are also modeling how he can speak positivity to siblings. By praising a child in front of a brother or sister, you accomplish two things.

You let the receiving child know that you are proud to speak highly of her in front of another family member. You also call attention to something deserving of praise so the spectator child can see real-life examples of his siblings strength and how to show support himself. Making him more likely to speak to siblings in the same way.

He’ll model your vernacular in the way he hears you speak to the other child.

Words of Encouragement for Kids Increase Good Behavior

When in need of a filter for deciding whether or not to praise your child, ask yourself this question: Do I want her to do this again?

  • When the answer is yes… praise it like crazy!
  • When she says something kind, acknowledge and praise.
  • When she shows kindness, acknowledge and praise!
  • When she shows first time obedience, acknowledge and praise!

A child who repeatedly receives a desirable outcome as a result of desirable behavior is far more likely to repeat that behavior. Solidify the desire for positive behavior with words of encouragement and praise!

Words of Encouragement for Kids Allows Parental Correction

A child who’s been lovingly nurtured and filled with appropriate praise and encouraging words will be more able to accept correction well. When you regularly praise a child with words, that child can confidently know when you discipline and correct, that she is not defined by the area of weakness, but instead by her ability to grow and improve.

Honestly, there are just too many benefits of encouraging words for kids to list!

I could go on for quite a long while. As you start to intentionally use words of praise as an integral part of your parenting, you’ll see the benefits are too numerous to count!

mom and daughter playing on bridge after mom used words of encouragement for kids to strengthen parenting

How to Praise a Child With Words

There are a few important elements to be conscientious of when discovering the ways to praise a child effectively.

Use Sincere Praise

This point right here could honestly solve a lot of the “should I praise this or not” uncertainty. Perhaps, for instance, a child gets a B on his math test. B isn’t a bad grade. However, this child regularly gets A’s and math is typically his best subject. You know he didn’t put as much effort into studying for this test.

So when he comes to you with it, be sincere about the praise you give. Acknowledging that a B is a pretty good grade is fine. Additionally, acknowledging that you know he didn’t study quite enough, could have gotten an A, and that you expect to see him apply himself more diligently next time is also fine.

Use Boisterous Praise

“I love to read books with you!” Is an effective, albeit mild, praise for a toddler who has sat down for story time.

Alternately, “YAY! GOOD STINKIN’ JOB BUDDY! THAT’S ONE FANTASTIC JOB POOPING IN THE POTTY!” Is the kind of boisterous praise that should accompany potty training and other, significant parenting feats! Read the complete guide to potty-training here.

My children love the way I sing words of encouragement to them. Every morning my 4-year-old comes bee-bopping down the stairs, finds me, stops, looks at me, and waits in expectation.

He’s waiting to hear, “Good Morning MY BAA-AAA-BBEEEE!” Sung to him as I show him how happy I am to see his face.

Get excited about your praise. Use words of encouragement for kids in a boisterous way they can understand. This also helps with speech development, read more about that here.

Individual Praise

Your child has a unique collection of strengths and talents. Strengths and talents that will help shape, mold, and define the person he’ll grow up to become.

Customize your words of encouragement specific to his individual talents fingerprint. Pick out the positive elements you see in his individuality and form your praise and encouragement around that.

For my highly-relational child, I am intentional to praise her with word phrases such as, “I love the way you were able to use your relational gifting to recognize that Jenny was feeling left out today. You made her needs and feelings a priority, and I am proud and happy to see you using the talents God has given you in this way!” VS. “Good job being a good friend.”

Honest Praise

Honest praise is slightly different than sincere praise in that we’re using the definition of the word honest that relates to fairly earning something.

You can encourage your child with positivity all day long, for every move she makes, and it not make a whole lot of impact. Honest praise comes from honest work. When your child digs her heels in and goes above and beyond, she’s earned honest praise for honest work.

Words of encouragement that focus on a task or accomplishment that required a good bit of effort will make a lasting impression on your child.

Descriptive Praise

Descriptive praise pairs well with #2, boisterous praise! When your child has shown a behavior that you want to see repeated, highlight each step of accomplishment that got her there, with your words of encouragement! For example, one of my children is not naturally skilled with tidying up.

It usually takes him a few attempts at cleaning his room before it’s up to snuff. Therefore, when he does a good job the first time, and even when he finally gets it right after the 3rd time, I walk through each thing he accomplished with descriptive praise. (For help with chores for kids, check here.)

For instance: “Thank you for getting the books straight on your bookshelf. I know remembering each step can be difficult. I’m proud of the way you went back through your checklist and made sure you completed each task so that you could finish the job well! Doing so allows more peace and organization for Mama, and that blesses me. Thank you for serving the family!”

beautiful mom and toddler son playing after mom spoke words of encouragement for kids

10 Positive Things To Say To Your Child All The Time

If you’ve ever read my most popular blog post, “Top 10 Parenting One-Liners for Correcting a Child’s Bad Behavior” you know that I am a fan of one-liners!

Matter of fact, I kinda say them all the time! To everyone. Everywhere.

Movie quotes. Random thoughts I have that turn into coined expressions. Riveting revelation that can be summed up in just a few words. (Ok I’m being sarcastic now)

Bottom line is, I love a good expression. With just a few words, you can build your child up, turn her day around, affirm her value, solidify her identity, validate her belonging, and make an overall giant positive impact in her life.

Let’s go over a handful of one-liner positive things to say to your child that you can put in your powerful parenting arsenal to kill insecurity, kibosh self-doubt, and drop-kick indifference.

1. You were created on purpose for a purpose.

It’s rather easy in the sea of faces on Earth to feel lost in the crowd. Remind your child regularly of her divine place and purpose in life.

2. You are a strategically placed and valuable member of THIS family!

Humans get caught up in “the grass is greener” thinking a lot. Remind your child that her unique skill set, personality, and soul are necessary for your family to be fulfilled! Without her it wouldn’t be what it’s meant to be.

3. If all the 8-year-old girls in the world were in a room together, and I could choose whichever one I wanted, I’d choose you!

(obviously you’ll need to tweak that if you have twins… or a boy… or a child any age other than 8 😉)

Tell your child often that you are her biggest fan and that you’d choose her again and again!

4. You fill my heart with joy.

Remind your child regularly that just his presence brings you happiness. Even when you may not be feeling it just so.

If you’re in the middle of strife and your child is the cause of aggravation, he feels it! He senses the tension and feels your vibe.

Remind him that you are responsible for your emotions, not him and that the truth of the matter is, he fills your heart with joy.

5. I’ll never give up on you.

One day, one of my children asked me, “Mom, do you still love me even when I’m bad?”

After the initial shock of heartbreak, I responded, “First of all… YOU are not BAD! You may make poor choices, or display poor behavior, but that is not WHO you are! Mommy has made plenty of poor choices, yet I won’t let them define me.”

Then I proceeded to tell him, “There is nothing you could do that would result in my loving you any less! I love you just because you’re you and God blessed me with the great privilege of raising and training you up. As long as there’s breath in my lungs I will never stop giving my everything to guiding you into a successful and fulfilling life.”

6. I love the sound of your voice.

7. I so enjoy looking at your face.

8. It brings me joy to hear you laugh.

I’ve strung 6, 7, & 8 together because they all emphasize what some consider superficial compliments.

Let’s just be real for a minute.

Everyone on the face of this planet knows what conventional beauty is. The problem with conventional beautify is that it is subjective. Beauty is 100% in the eye of the beholder.

What one person finds attractive, another does not. Sounds that are pleasing to one, are obnoxious to another.

The significant value in positive things to say to your child #’s 6, 7, & 8 is that regardless of how your child is viewed by others, he’ll never ever question how he’s viewed by you.

Let me give you a real-life example of this in action.

When I was in the 7th grade, some other children teased me about the size of my ears. (Which reminds me, don’t allow your child to be a bully. Just nip that $&%@ in the bud the moment you suspect it! This goes without saying for you, I know.. but still)

Anyway, after hearing what the other children were saying, I was so confused. They acted as though something was wrong with me, and I knew that couldn’t possibly be correct because my dad had told me time and again how beautiful I was!?

The truth I believed about myself had been established, long before those ridiculous kids picked on me, by my biggest fan!

9. It is my great privilege to get to be your Mommy!

During this interview I did with Epoch Times, I chatted about the negative influence romanticized negative parenting memes, videos, and posts are having on mothers.

You know the ones… “my-kids-are-such-a-nightmare-I-have-to-go-hide-in-the-closet-and-drown-my-mommy-sorrows-in-a-bottle-of-wine” sort of thing.

Your child will pick up on this stuff. She’ll hear other moms talk, she’ll see (and eventually read) magazine covers in the grocery store, and she’ll get the vibe that parenting must be miserable.

Squash that negative garbage and redefine your own societal and cultural norms by being proactive with positive words of encouragement such as #9.

10. I love you just the way you are.

DON’T go checking out on me with this one! Hear me out!

I know it sounds hokey at first, but there’s more to this cliche over-used expression.

In a world full of people drowning in self-doubt, there are two typical themes you see played out over and over again in the human psyche. The first being, “I am not enough” the second being, “I am too much.”

The reserved child who’s overtly sensitive to others feelings, regularly rescues birds, and often allows his friends to have their way, will touch the world and people around him in a way that no-one else can, so long as he understands how valuable his gifts are without wishing he was more of a go-getter!

The child with the big personality, lots of ideas, and tons of answer, who likes to blaze a trial, may become a crazy-successful entrepreneur if she understands her worth and her value without wishing she could just be a bit more “chill!”

Look for the traits in your child that she may someday wish she could change. Be intentional and proactive to nurture those traits so she can know they are a GOOD thing and an important part of who she is created to be!

Negative Effects of Over-Praising

Every good thing has a counterpart, right? I mean what would the force be, without the dark side?

Over-praising happens when you find yourself so worried about hurting your child with your words that you withhold all correction and replace it with misplaced praise.

There are negative effects of overpraising in this way. Most of this will be avoided by simply understanding how to praise a child with words. However, for good measure, let’s go over the negative effects, so you understand what to look for, should things get out of balance.

Everything becomes deserving of a reward of some sort.

It’s possible to get so praise-heavy that your child will begin to expect some sort of verbal or tangible reward for every move he makes. Completing a chore doesn’t necessarily call for praise.

Although, getting the chore done well, diligently, and without being asked is certainly a reason to offer up words of encouragement!

The feat is done chasing affirmation instead of accomplishment.

Compliments are nice. Heck, we all want compliments from time to time. Often, they can be just the umph we need to turn our day around. Nonetheless, the goal of our words of encouragement for kids is to encourage accomplishment, not to chase affirmation.

If you notice your child “fishing for compliments” have a heart to heart about where that is stemming from and try to get to the bottom of it.

Looking for praise when you offer it to another child or feel as though they should be good at everything.

No one is good at everything. When I have done a good job at making each of my children feel special for their own unique gifts and talents, there is little to no competition between them.

When I get in a bad pattern of handing out praise without intention and purpose, I find that when I offer words of encouragement for one, they all want the same praise.

One of my favorite books on sibling relationships is written by Todd Cartmell. In Keep The Siblings, Lose the Rivalry, he addresses sibling rivalry.

True sibling rivalry is a competition. When each child is keenly aware of his strengths and has enough one on one attention with mom and dad, sibling rivalry vanishes. Get the sibling rivalry book here.

Center of the universe syndrome.

This is the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish in our children’s lives.

A child begins to learn/realize/discover that there are other people in the world and that he is not the center of the universe (literally) around the age of 3-4. This is an emotional time for children. It’s also normal and healthy.

Truth is, your sweet baby isn’t the center of the universe. Neither are mine. Or any other child. The 3-4-year-old-age is a great time to lean into the new understanding she’s gaining about the world around her. Balance out your words of encouragement and praise with intentional “life-is-not-all-about-you” training.

List of Encouraging Words and Phrases for Kids

To encourage accomplishments:

  • I love the way you didn’t give up!
  • You pushed yourself hard! That showed dedication! That’s very admirable!
  • I’m so proud of you! (don’t underestimate the power in this – my dad said it a lot – do you like to hear it?)
  • You used your brain to the max!
  • You used your body to the max!

To encourage and praise a win:

  • Great job running so fast! Your hard work totally paid off!
  • I knew you could do it! (establishes your fanship and expressed your faith in them.
  • How does your work paying off make you feel?
  • You are capable of big things!

To solidify belonging:

  • Watching you makes me happy.
  • You bring me great joy just by being you.
  • I’m so glad I get to be YOUR mommy!
  • You represented our family REALLY well!
  • You honored God REALLY well!!

To solidify identity:

  • Only you could have done that!
  • My favorite part is how you did it your special way!
  • I love the way you carefully consider your friends! (for the relational child)
  • I really enjoy your hugs! They fill my love tank and make me feel loved as well! (for the affectionate child)
  • Way to put yourself out there! (for the precocious child who likes to have the answers)
  • Way to work on building a good reputation!

When they don’t win, feel bad, blue, sad, or down:

  • Watching you makes me happy.
  • You bring me great joy just by being you.
  • I’m so glad I get to be YOUR mommy!
  • You were created on purpose and for a purpose.
  • Whether you win or lose in this moment doesn’t define you. How you act in the moment can.
  • How can I help you feel better right now?
  • It’s OK to feel the feels. I’m here to be with you and help you through.

Examples of the Wrong Way To Praise

Conditional Praise

Conditional praise happens when you find yourself withholding praise when your child hasn’t met an unspoken expectation or unreasonable standard. Or perhaps, when he didn’t do as well as you know he could have, so you hold back in hopes that it will make him try harder next time.

It won’t. It will have the opposite effect. When a child feels he’s given the “cold shoulder” or that he has disappointed you because of a loss, he’ll be less likely to take good risks, such as trying again.

Vague or Sweeping Praise

Conversely, to what we spoke about previously in descriptive praise, vague or sweeping praise doesn’t give your child much to hold on to. Vague or sweeping praise is a bit lazy. If you find yourself wanting to say, “Good Job!” Try replacing it with, “Thank you for (fill in the blank!

Manipulation and Control

Check your motives when you offer words of encouragement and praise. What are you hoping to accomplish? Are you longing to build a strong relationship, or get a self-gratifying result?

This can get a little confusing. Examples work best, so let’s throw out a couple. When I told my 21-month-old: “Yahoo!! Great job going pee-pee in the potty buddy! That’s a whole week you haven’t gotten your big boy undies wet. You’ve earned a prize! I’m so proud of your commitment to learning how to use the big boy toilet!” I know that every ounce of independence and self-efficacy he gains is going to boost his confidence and self-esteem.

My goal is his betterment, not bragging rights.

This is an internal heart-issue for parents. Ask yourself what the goal of your praise and encouragement is. It should not be self-seeking or self-serving, but rather for the advancement and well-being of your child and your whole family, so praise accordingly!

Comparison Praise

Here we have another good vs. not-so-good. The opposite of the good individual praise I mentioned above is the not-so-good comparison praise.

This happens when you do not craft individualized words of encouragement for kids based on their uniqueness, but instead, use a sibling or friend as a measuring tool.

This is just about the worst verbal thing that can be done to a child’s confidence with regards to spoken words. Leave other children out of it. When your child has earned praise, give it without phrases like, “… just like your brother.” Or “… even faster than (so and so!)”

Not only does this hurt the child receiving the praise it also sets a bad example for how to speak about others, and will likely damage sibling relationships and friendships.

Encouraging Words For Daughter

At the heart of every female is the desire to know the answer to this question:

Am I beautiful?

I’ve already told you how I feel about telling your child you think she’s beautiful. It’s a good thing to do. So say it.

Furthermore, don’t hold back these encouraging words for your daughter either:

  • You are strong!
  • You are bold!
  • You are enough!
  • You are feminine!
  • You are loving!
  • You are nurturing!
  • You are cherished!
  • You are highly valued!
  • You are smart!
  • You are loved!

Encouraging Words For Son

At the heart of every male is the desire to know the answer to this question:

Am I enough?

The pressure facing young men growing up today is enough to make me weep. Everywhere you turn there is a piece of media, video, meme, post, article, TV show, etc with the goal of demeaning the valuable role men have in the world.

Be certain your son knows with great certainty that he is enough! Additionally, say these positive words of encouragement to him regularly:

  • You can absolutely accomplish this!
  • You are capable!
  • You are smart!
  • You are masculine!
  • You are strong!
  • You are gentle!
  • You are kind!
  • You are irreplaceable!
  • You are loving!
  • You are loved!

There is Power in Your Words of Encouragement and Praise for Kids!

Lastly, don’t overthink it. Providing words of encouragement for kids and praising a child with words are powerful ways to significantly promote self-worth, increase good behavior, connect with your child, and build the family you’ve always dreamed of and hoped for!

Not every positive effect will be visible immediately! Repeated use of praise and words of encouragement for your child will absolutely bear fruit after consistent and meaningful use!

Don’t hold back and provide it with intentional and consideration!

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