Everyone needs external reinforcement to be their best self, including your child, who relies on you for encouragement and words of affirmation. Use the following tips to help encourage your child or to lift up his or her spirit, and to inspire your child to keep developing his or her unique talents and abilities.
Tell your child when he or she does something special.
Your feedback will go a long way, no matter your child’s age. Don’t just think how intelligent, smart, funny or talented your child is, or how much progress he or she has made. Tell him or her. Whether your child demonstrates an outstanding accomplishment or you just want to say “you’re a great kid,” find ways to incorporate words of affirmation in your daily interactions. Some examples:
- Great job!
- You’re so smart!
- When you do ____ it makes me so proud!
- I love your kindness!
- Your teacher (or coach) told me that you were the best one at ____ today!
Display inspirational quotations at home.
For older children who know how to read, consider adding words of encouragement to your décor. For example, you could find or make refrigerator magnets or wall art that includes inspirational sayings or quotations. Look for ones that are sure to pump up your child and make him or her feel successful, or that remind your child not to worry if and when challenged, such as:
- Reach for stars (first words of a poem by anon)
- If you can dream it, you can do it (Walt Disney)
- When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing (Zen saying)
- Do or do not, there is no try (Yoda)
- Believe in yourself
- There is nothing to fear but fear itself (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
- Be the best you can be
Perform random acts of encouragement.
Another way to make your child feel special is by surprise encouragement, such as:
- Write affirming notes and slip them into your child’s lunch box, jacket or pants pocket, or backpack pouches, for a random “pick me up.”
- Hang a banner on your child’s door with encouraging words and inspirational pictures.
Typically we celebrate big milestones in our lives, but it also can be inspirational and impactful to acknowledge everyday events, such as by rewarding your child for accomplishments big and small. Examples:
- Plan a mid-week pizza (or whatever food your child loves) party at home or elsewhere to reinforce to your child that he or she is a nice kid or that you’re proud of your child’s performance on a test.
- If your child isn’t shy or easily embarrassed, and if the situation warrants, consider praising your child in front of others or making a short speech about the accomplishment. For example, you could do so during a nightly family dinner, or after a sports practice in front of the whole team. The deciding factor centers on what will be the most well-received by your child.
Receiving sincere praise and acknowledgment is sure to make anyone’s day a little brighter, including your child’s. Consistent affirmation encourages positive growth and development, and can be expressed in many ways, so don’t forget to weave “pep talks” and “pep words” into your child’s day, to help build his or her self-esteem and confidence.