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Attaboy! Encouraging Phrases That Build Confidence

Home, home on the range,
Where never is heard
A discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day!

Oh, that would be wonderful but most parents and bosses tend to feel that criticism and pointing out what is wrong will make others want to do what is right. However, people cannot improve unless they feel good enough about themselves to believe they are capable of improvement. An encouraging parent stops using negative comments about a child and uses methods, words and actions that indicate a respect for the child and a faith in his abilities.

Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame often cites a study done by some graduate students who followed a normal group of two-year olds around for a day. These average kids from average homes received 432 negative statements as opposed to 32 positive statements daily. The teachers, aides and other children were constantly saying, "Don't touch that." "No, it is done this way" "No, you are not big enough." The national PTO (Parent teacher Organization) found the ratio of praise to criticism of school age children to be 18 negative to each positive. It is such automatic action to state things in the negative; we have to learn the words to use in encouraging our children.

Encouragement is the process of focusing on your children's assets and strengths in order to build their self-confidence and feelings of worth. I like to think of the word encourage broken into "en" courage meaning I am giving you the gift of courage. Inherent in that gift is the idea that it is okay to take risks and perhaps even to fail, but to go ahead and try it anyway. We need to convey though words and gestures that we appreciate their efforts and improvement not just their accomplishments. We need to make sure they understand that our love and acceptance is not dependent on their behavior or winning the prize in soccer.

Here is a list of 15 encouraging words and phrases that will assist your child to keep trying and increase his self-esteem and confidence.

1. "I like the way you handled that" 2. "Wow, you really thought out the solution to that problem" 3. "I have faith in your ability" 4. "I appreciate what you did" 5. "You are really showing improvement" 6. "I know you will figure out a good way to do it next time" 7. "You don't have to be perfect. Effort and improvement are important." 8. "I trust you to be responsible" 9. "It must make you proud of yourself when you accomplish something like that" 10. "You are a valuable part of the team" 11. "It is okay to make a mistake, we all do. What do you think you learned from it?" 12. "How can we turn this into a positive?" 13. "I'm proud of you for trying" 14. "I'll bet by next year you will be able to handle it, you just need to grow a little" 15. "I know you are disappointed that you didn't win, but you'll do better next time."

Good luck in your efforts to be more positive and encouraging to those around you. Your children, family and employees will be grateful and will rise to your expectations. You do an important work.

© 2004 Judy H. Wright, Parent Educator, author and international speaker.

Please go to for a full line of books, workshops and cd's on parenting, as well as FREE e-zine, Artichoke-finding the heart of the story in the journey of life.

Judy H. Wright,Parent and family educator, author, international speaker and personal historian located in beautiful Missoula, Montana phone: 406-549-9813 Email: For FREE reports and ezine subscribtion, please go to:

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