Cartoon of young woman with a backpack hiking up a path which is a photo. Her thought bubble shows a younger self hearing encouragement from her mom.

64 Positive Things to Say to Kids – Words of Encouragement

A few words of encouragement can make all the difference in a child's day. When kids feel discouraged, your verbal support can give them the push they need to keep going. When they're facing tough obstacles, your uplifting remarks can help them remember their inner strength and power.

Positive encouragement makes kids feel loved, helps them gain confidence in their capabilities, and gives them the opportunity to reach their full potential.

The Power of Daily Encouraging Words for Kids

Young people face a barrage of challenges. As they attempt to find their place in the world, they may struggle with schoolwork, feel left out by their peers, or face difficult family situations. In the midst of all these challenges, it's easy for kids to lose sight of their own worth.

Adults can provide crucial support for children navigating these challenges. A few words of encouragement can give a child the boost they need to keep going. It can remind them that they are valued and capable, no matter what they're facing.

What encouraging phrases do you say to your kids? Which ones do you want them to remember?

I remember the way my grandmother would pause at life's magic moments and say, “This, now, this is good.” In the years since she has been gone, her words still inspire me to notice the good things as they come.

My mother inspired me as well. To this day, I can hear her encouraging me when I try new things. Her voice of assurance from my childhood continues to give me confidence now.

All of the words of encouragement recieved from my parents and grandparents have stayed with me throughout my life. 

What words of encouragement will stay with your kids for the rest of their lives?

Years after my dad died, I can still hear him saying, “Lighten up, Lissy!” when I get too serious. In moments of complete self-doubt and embarrassment, I bolster myself by thinking of him singing, “Oops, you made a mistake, and you’re beautiful to me.”

Words have immense power. They evoke potent emotions, inspiring us to greateness or filling us with sorrow. You can harness their power to inspire your children and motivate them to overcome life's challenges. 

Maintaining a positive environment through constant encouragement tips the scales toward 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.

I am happy to offer a poster version of this list here.

64 Words of Encouragement for Kids

May this list inspire you to turn to your child and say something like:

  1. You are loved
  2. You make me smile
  3. I think about you when we’re apart
  4. My world is better with you in it
  5. I will do my best to keep you safe
  6. Sometimes I will say no
  7. I have faith in you
  8. I know you can handle it
  9. You are creative
  10. Trust your instincts
  11. Your ideas are worthwhile
  12. You are capable
  13. You are deserving
  14. You are strong
  15. You can say no
  16. Your choices matter
  17. You make a difference
  18. Your words are powerful
  19. Your actions are powerful
  20. Your emotions may be powerful
  21. And you can still choose your actions
  22. You are more than your emotions
  23. You are a good friend
  24. You are kind
  25. You don’t have to like what someone is saying in order to treat them with respect
  26. Someone else’s poor behavior is not an excuse for your own
  27. You are imperfect
  28. So am I
  29. You can change your mind
  30. You can learn from your mistakes
  31. You can ask for help
  32. You are learning
  33. You are growing
  34. Growing is hard work
  35. I believe you
  36. I believe in you
  37. You are valuable
  38. You are interesting
  39. You are beautiful
  40. When you make a mistake, you are still beautiful
  41. Your body is your own
  42. You have say over your body
  43. You are important
  44. Your ideas matter
  45. You are able to do work that matters
  46. I see you working and learning every day
  47. You make a difference in my life
  48. I am curious what you think
  49. How did you do that?
  50. Your ideas are interesting
  51. You’ve made me think of things in a completely new way
  52. I’m excited to see what you do
  53. Thanks for helping me
  54. Thank you for contributing to our family
  55. I enjoy your company
  56. It’s fun to do things with you
  57. I’m glad you’re here
  58. I’m happy to talk with you
  59. I’m ready to listen
  60. I’m listening
  61. I’m proud of you
  62. I’m grateful you’re in my life
  63. You make me smile
  64. I love you

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Encouraging Children with Words

Research has shown that the kind of praise we give to our children influences them later in life. When we encourage our children, we should focus on their effort rather than their talent.

Recognize their effort.

Show your kids encouragement when they try their best. It doesn't matter if their abilities are top-notch or need work, or if they won or lost. They need to understand that effort matters more than outcome. Encourage them to try their best at everything they do.

Specific phrases increase motivation.

Don't generalize your words of encouragement. Be specific, focusing on 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.

Be sincere.

The praise you offer your children must be sincere and honest. If it doesn't feel sincere, they will likely not feel encouraged at all. The praise is ultimately discounted and can lead to a child to practice self-criticism.

Avoid controlling or conditional praise

When you use praise and encouragement to control your child, they think your approval and positivity depends solely on performance. We will always make mistakes and have stumbles as part of learning and growth. Child who believe they'll be rejected if they make mistakes may suffer from low self worth, perfectionist tendencies and a life-long feeling of ‘never enough'.

Avoid comparison.

You also want to avoid comparison praise because instead of motivating them to work harder, it can 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 learn to compare themselves to others and when they fail, instead of looking towards their own strengths and how to build on those, they look at how they're ‘worse' than someone else. This makes it easier to become frustrated and feel helpless while losing their motivation.

The Benefits of Encouragement

When we encourage our children with positive words and affirmations, we boost their self-esteem, help them learn to believe in themselves, assist in developing their imagination and creativity, and motivate them to keep trying and learning.

You may find some of the positive phrases hokey, or wonder if saying them over and over reduces their power. I think of it a different way. I keep offering words of encouragement, hoping the repetition makes 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.”

You can get a poster version of this list here.

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References:

  • De Montfort University Leicester (2019, October 11). Research shows praising children five times a day has a positive impact. Retrieved from https://www.dmu.ac.uk.
  • National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2018). Understanding Motivation: Building the Brain Architecture That Supports Learning, Health, and Community Participation Working Paper No. 14. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.