Words Matter: The Power of Encouragement

Words Matter: The Power of Encouragement

Childhood is an incredible time of growth, development and learning; it is to be expected that parents will experience frustration, anger and disappointment over behavior challenges or emotional outbursts in children.

No parent is perfect and uses the perfect words and phrases all of the time.

But hopefully this can be an encouraging reminder of strategies that can help during those challenging times. Research has shown that a parenting style that is a combination of warmth and affection along with clear, consistent expectations has the most positive outcomes on a child’s growth and development. Ways to build warmth in a relationship include giving positive reinforcement and connecting to a child.

Words can inspire.
And words can destroy.

Choose yours well

Using Words to Positively Influence Your Child

Using Words to Positively Influence Your Child

Show unconditional love:

It can be helpful to make a distinction between not approving WHAT they are doing versus not liking WHO they are. WHO they are is not a sum of WHAT they do. Sometimes they are just acting out trying to figure out how to understand and navigate the world they live in and how to relate to it. A child that feels safe and loved is motivated to learn and improve.

  • You are special
  • I care about you and want the best for you
  • Even though I might not like what you did, I still love you
  • I love spending time with you
  • I know you did not mean to ____
  • Nothing can stop me from loving you
  • Do you want/need a hug?
  • I am angry-frustrated-disappointed in your behavior but I know we can work this out
  • I know you can learn from this to improve and make better choices
  • What is the best way that I can help you right now?

Catch the good:

Studies have shown that a ratio of 5 positive interactions to every 1 negative interaction can have a powerful effect on connected relationships. Encouraging words that are honest and specific can increase the desired behavior in a child, and it is especially helpful to focus on the effort versus the ability.

  • Wow, you worked really hard on that!
  • I am so impressed with your effort-dedication-focus!
  • Thank you for paying attention to the directions
  • I love seeing you be kind to others
  • I am so proud of you for not giving up
  • You did a great job on ______
  • I really appreciate how helpful you are
  • Thank you for responding so quickly to my request
  • That shows alot of responsibility-creativity-courage
  • Your ideas are great

Teach for success and model a growth mindset:

Sometimes kids don’t know how to do something or struggle with impulsivity or overwhelming emotions. Teach them that there is always opportunity to learn from mistakes.

  • Let’s rewind and try that again
  • Can you think of another way to do that?
  • Instead of _____ try ______
  • I can see you are upset-sad-angry, do you need a few minutes to feel calmer?
  • I see you are struggling – how can I help?
  • What can you do next time to improve and/or make a better decision?
  • I am really frustrated and/or angry at the moment so I need a few minutes before we talk
  • You can do hard things – I have faith in you
  • Please use kind-appropriate-softer words when you speak to me
  • It’s okay to be upset; let’s take a deep breath and then think about possible solutions
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