Do you focus on positive things to say to your child, or do you often nag?
If you answered “yes” to the latter, you’re not alone.
You want your children to be responsible and independent.
You want them to be motivated to do well in school.
Since they’re not there yet, you instinctively nag them to correct their behaviour and attitude.
But, at the same time, you realise that all this nagging isn’t working.
If so, this article is for you.
I’ve had years of experience working with and speaking to thousands of children and teenagers. So I understand the factors that help them become mature, responsible, and successful.
One of the most important factors is how their parents talk to them. (Here’s a list of family conversation starters that you’ll find helpful.)
The words you speak to your children play on repeat in their minds (even if it feels like your kids aren’t listening to a thing you say). So positive words for your children matter.
Share words of inspiration with your kids and they’ll likely grow into more kind, responsible, and respectful adults.
Plus, the more positive interactions between the parent and child, the less likely it is that the parent will need to nag the child in order to gain compliance.
When you speak words of encouragement to your kids, it’s also more likely that a strong parent-child bond will form.
Think back to your childhood for a moment…
Do you remember any inspiring words from your parents or teachers? Those positive statements helped you become the adult you are today.
In fact, there’s a supposed “magic ratio” of 5 to 1 in healthy relationships: 5 positive expressions of feelings and actions for every negative expression.
In this article, I’ll share with you 53 positive things to say to your child so that — in the long run — you won’t need to nag them anymore!
Before we get to the list of encouraging things to say to your kids, here’s a bonus for you…
Enter your email below to download a free poster that contains the top 12 positive things to say to your children. You can print out the poster as a daily reminder of the phrases to use.
The benefits of encouraging messages for children
It’s hardly a secret that no matter our age, words of encouragement make us feel good. But it turns out there’s science behind why those nice words lead to long-term benefits.
In the book Words Can Change Your Brain, neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman say:
A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress… The longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain.
In other words, positive thoughts and speech affect how we feel and how we perceive the world around us.
And negative words? Those can cause situational stress and even contribute to anxiety.
Sharing positive messages with your children has an enduring influence on their mental well-being and life-long happiness.
Let’s take a closer look at a few other benefits of encouraging messages for children:
Encouraging words build self-esteem
If you regularly say positive things to your child, you’ll help build their confidence and self-esteem.
I don’t mean over-praising your kids, but providing an atmosphere that is encouraging and supportive.
Let’s say your child makes a mistake. Instead of reprimanding your child, you might say: “What happened here? We all make mistakes, so let’s talk about what happened in this situation.”
Your child will learn from the experience and be more motivated to keep working on challenging tasks.
Another benefit to building self-esteem? Children with positive self-worth tend to get better grades and achieve greater success.
That means they’ll be more motivated to do well in school — no exhausting micromanaging required.
Encouraging words support a growth mindset
Life is a continuous journey of learning, improving, and developing. We all face obstacles on our path to success. So, instead of constantly correcting your children, frame feedback in a positive light.
Remind your child that it’s the process, not the outcome, of becoming a better student that matters.
You’ll support a growth mindset, and your children will know it’s their effort that’s the most important. (Here are 10 phrases that encourage a growth mindset in students.)
Encouraging words inspire kindness and respect towards others
Our words become our children’s inner dialogue — and that impacts how they speak and act towards others. When parents focus on nice things to say to their kids, they inspire their children to spread kindness and respect.
For example, when you tell your children, “Your opinion is important,” you’re building their self-esteem and sense of responsibility.
You’re also reminding them to respect the opinion of others — a valuable skill inside and outside the classroom.
53 nice things to say to kids
Now that we’ve reviewed the benefits of encouraging words, let’s explore what things to say to your child.
This is my go-to list of 53 positive things to say to your child. Bookmark it, print it out, and come back to it whenever you need some inspiration!
1. “I’m grateful for you.”
Children feel special when they know you’re thankful that they’re a part of your life.
2. “What do you think?”
Ask this question to show that you value your children’s opinions.
3. “I enjoy spending time with you.”
Children and teenagers behave better when they know that you love them and like them. They’ll be less likely to rebel too.
4. “All of us make mistakes.”
Say this instead of harshly criticising your children for accidental mistakes.
5. “You’re special to me.”
This phrase will help to fill your children’s “love tank”.
6. “I appreciate it when you…”
For example, you might say, “I appreciate it when you set the table for dinner.”
7. “I trust you.”
Children and teenagers who feel as if their parents trust them are more likely to become trustworthy.
8. “You’re getting better at…”
When you notice your children’s progress, they’ll feel encouraged and motivated.
9. “Have a good day!”
This is a simple way to start the day on a positive note when you say goodbye to your children in the morning.
10. “Let me think about it.”
This is a better alternative than instinctively saying no to your children’s requests (assuming the requests aren’t too unreasonable).
11. “What happened here?”
Ask this question instead of assigning blame or jumping to conclusions, e.g. when you notice that a piece of furniture in your home has been damaged.
12. “It looks like you’re having a difficult time. Can you tell me about it?”
This is an effective way to get your children to open up.
13. “I’m sorry.”
When you’ve made a mistake, be humble and apologise.
14. “Your practice is paying off.”
Children and teenagers appreciate it when their parents observe that their efforts have yielded results.
15. “How did you do that?”
This question helps your children to focus on the process instead of the outcome, and is always one of the most positive things to say to your child.
16. “What’s one interesting thing that happened in school today?”
By asking your children this question, they’ll be more likely to open up as compared to you asking, “How was your day?”
17. “What did you try hard at today?”
This emphasises to your children that trying hard and improving are more important than achieving a specific end result.
18. “I’m sure you can do it.”
Continuing the list of things you could say to your child is “I’m sure you can do it.” Say this to your children to give them a boost of confidence.
19. “You decide.”
Children learn to make wise decisions by making more decisions, not by following the instructions of authority figures.
20. “How do you feel about that?”
This question will help your children to become more emotionally self-aware.
21. “I’m ready to listen.”
By telling your children that you’re ready to listen without judging, they’ll be more willing to share what’s on their heart.
22. “I love you.”
Children and teenagers need to know that they’re loved unconditionally.
23. “You make me smile.”
By saying this, you’ll make your children’s day.
24. “Your opinion is important.”
Your children will feel significant when you say this to them. And when they feel significant, they’ll behave more responsibly. It’s a must on any list of positive things to say to kids.
25. “You were right.”
Admit it when you’re wrong. This is one of the best ways to earn your child’s respect.
26. “I can see that you’re becoming more…”
For more positive things to say to your child, fill in the blank with “focused”, “organised”, “kind”, “responsible”, “helpful”, etc. as you observe even small positive changes in your children.
27. “I’m excited about doing this with you!”
This emphasises to your children that you actually enjoy doing things together with them.
28. “That’s a good question.”
By acknowledging your children’s curiosity, you’ll foster a spirit of lifelong learning in them.
29. “I accept you the way you are.”
Parents want to raise children who are secure and self-confident. Saying this to your children is a good way to encourage them down the right path.
30. “You’re an important member of this family.”
If you’re still wondering what to say to kids, remind your children frequently of their value and significance as a member of the family.
31. “I believe in you.”
Your children want to know that you believe in them, that you have faith in their character and abilities.
32. “I saw that you tried hard at…”
This phrase reinforces the principle that challenges are things to be embraced, not things to be avoided.
33. “Let’s do it your way.”
Show your children that your way isn’t always the only (or best) way.
34. “Can you explain to me why you did it this way?”
Empower your children to reflect on their choices and on what they’re learning.
35. “You’re learning how to…”
Remind your children that the journey of learning is what matters most.
36. “That was thoughtful of you.”
Acknowledging your children’s positive behaviour and attitude means a lot to them.
37. “Can you teach me how to…?”
Your children will grow in confidence when they realise that you have things to learn from them too.
38. “Good point.”
As your children grow in intellectual maturity and wisdom, show them that you observe this growth.
39. “I knew you could do it.”
These words of encouragement will help your children to believe in themselves.
40. “How did you think of that?”
Children and teenagers who go through such reflection will develop problem-solving skills faster.
41. “Would you like to talk about it?”
This question is inviting without being overbearing or demanding, key components of positive things to say to your child.
42. “What challenge would you like to take on?”
It’s through challenges that we learn and grow, so this is one way to encourage your children to view challenges positively.
43. “I care about you.”
If you feel awkward about telling your children that you love them, start with this phrase instead.
44. “What do you think you can do about this?”
Instead of solving the problem for your children, ask this question to enable them to solve the problem themselves.
45. “Will you forgive me?”
Beyond apologising, asking for your children’s forgiveness is a powerful way to restore the parent-child relationship.
46. “Tell me more.”
This is a simple phrase that encourages your children to share their thoughts and feelings.
47. “It’s OK to feel…”
Rather than tell your children that they shouldn’t feel angry, sad, frustrated, etc. empathise with them and help them to work through their negative emotions.
48. “Shall we start over again?”
If an argument has broken out between you and your children, ask this question to start the discussion afresh.
49. “I’m proud to be your parent.”
When your children know this, they’ll want to do you proud too.
50. “What can I do to be a better parent?”
Be prepared to hear an honest answer from your children. By putting their feedback into practice, you’ll definitely become a better parent.
51. “That’s an interesting idea.”
You’ll show your children you care about their opinions and encourage their creativity and self-expression.
52. “That was really brave of you.”
Dealing with change is scary. Acknowledge your child’s bravery, and they’ll feel more comfortable taking on new challenges.
53. “It’s okay to say no.”
Teach your children to say no from a young age. They’ll grow into empowered adults who know how to set healthy boundaries.
Inspire your kids with words
Being a parent isn’t easy. I hope this list of positive things to say to your children inspires them and helps you build a better relationship with them, too!
Try using a few of these encouraging words every week. Notice any changes you see in your children.
You might find that inspiring your kids with words fosters responsibility, confidence, and autonomy — all essential traits of motivated students.
Want even more support to raise resilient, successful children?
I offer 1-on-1 support for students through this coaching programme.
I’ll personally help your child to develop the mindset and skills they need in school and beyond.
Sharing encouraging words is a great way to motivate your child, but it’s just one of many important interactions kids need.
Learn more about how my coaching programme can help your child develop a greater sense of purpose and motivation today!
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