Encourage kids' efforts, attitudes and behavior with phrases such as "You worked really hard today," "I believe in you," "You are improving so much" and "You can do this." Encouragement should be specific, direct and focused on effort rather than outcomes.
Encouragement is different than praise. While praise may seem easier and more natural, encouragement calls out specific qualities of a kid's attitude, behavior, judgment or decision-making and points them in the direction you want them to continue. Praise-phrasing is saying things such as, "Wow, great job coloring those decorations!" An example of encouragement-phrasing is, "I love the attention and creativity you poured into your work."
Encouragement should be age-appropriate and tailored to the kid's needs. A five-year-old struggling to tie her shoes and a nine-year-old stuck on his multiplication tables have different levels of comprehension. While the five-year-old may respond to simple phrasing such as "You can do it, it just takes some practice," the nine-year-old could feel brushed aside. Instead, a more age-appropriate encouragement for the nine-year-old might be, "You're a very capable student. I've seen you improve every day!"
Encouragement helps children feel secure and supported. Children respond to reminders that they are cared for. The phrases "I love you no matter what," "I appreciate spending this time with you" and others like them are great for all ages.