Avoid Negating Encouraging Words

Avoid: I’m So Proud of You


Statements such as “I’m so proud of you,” can instantly ruin your efforts to encourage babies, children, and teens.


  • First, adding the words “I’m so proud of you,” alters the ownership. Even if you also worked very hard to support your child’s progress, the success belongs to her. Say, “You can feel good about your hard work and persistence,” Give the honor where it belongs—to the child. Instead of proclaiming your own pride in your baby’s achievement, consider saying, “Yay for you! Be happy about your hard work. Let’s clap for you.”

  • The second way to ruin encouragement is for the statement to lack authenticity. If the child really did not work hard, failed to persist, or did not show courtesy to a new child, leave the comments unspoken.

BUT: The Awesome Downer


The word “but” cancels any preceding statement. For example, “You fed yourself your peas. Great! BUT you need to start using a spoon.” Or “You took your first steps, BUT you kept falling down. Examples for an older child might sound like, “You have a good report card but, next time, raise that B to an A in math.” “You swam very fast, but your flip turn was awful.” Whatever encouragement you initially offered got lost in the “but” statement