Encouragement improves behavior by making children feel included, important, and valued (Nelson, 2006). In many cases, simply paying attention to what children are doing is encouragement enough. You can help your child build self-confidence by noticing your child’s effort, and telling your child what you see. Keep comments specific, so children know exactly what they are doing well. The following phrases are suggestions for how to encourage your child. 

  • Instead of saying, “Good job coloring,” try saying, “Wow, I see you chose to use a lot of bright yellow on the page.” 
  • Instead of saying, “Great sharing,” try saying, “I notice you are sharing your pencils with your friend. That really makes playing together more fun.” 
  • Instead of saying, “You are so tidy,” try saying, “I see that you put your toys away. That is really helpful.” 
  • Instead of saying, “You are such a good boy,” try saying, “Wow, I noticed that you talk very softly when your sister is asleep.” 


Nelson, J. (2006). Positive discipline: The classic guide to helping children develop self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation, and problem-solving skills (3rd ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. 

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