Encouraging words for kids: Celebrating courage, kindness, confidence and teamwork

Mother and son reading book about courage

Though they be but little, kids have the power to change the world around them in big ways. They can do it by being brave, being kind, being themselves and being good team players.

Those are the actions Little World Changers books celebrate and encourage. Sharing a Little World Changers book with a kid you care about is one great way to get them excited about doing good stuff that makes a real difference.

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Encouraging words for kids  

Words of encouragement for kids are another great way to affirm them and empower them to do their best (and bravest and kindest) each day.

If you’re a parent or other caring adult looking to go beyond a simple “You can do it!” or “Sorry you had a bad day,” you’re in the right place. We’ve got inspiration for encouraging messages to write to kids and creative ideas for memorable ways to deliver those words. We’ve also got ideas for what to say to kids to encourage them in the moment, whether you find them struggling to be brave or you’ve just caught them in the act of being a great teammate.

Ways to encourage kids to be kind  

Sometimes kindness comes naturally to kids, and other times they need extra encouragement to think beyond their own feelings and preferences. Whether it’s letting a classmate be first in line or helping dad unload the dishwasher, words that affirm those kind acts can go a long way in building kids’ powers of kindness.

As parents and caring adults, we can also open up extra opportunities for kids to practice kindness and see how it makes the world better. With regular practice and encouragement, kindness can become not only a habit but a superpower.

What to write or say to encourage KINDNESS:

  • “Ellie looked sad when you told her she couldn’t play ponies with you and Maddie. I think it would make Ellie so happy if you invited her to play with you next time. What do you think?”
  • “Thank you for helping your sister pick up her toys, even though you didn’t get them out. You are showing her what it looks like to be kind!”
  • “Our new neighbor mentioned that her son is eight just like you. How about inviting him over to shoot baskets next time you’re out? I bet that would make him feel more welcome in the neighborhood.”
  • “Mrs. Smith told me you ran to help her pick up when all her groceries tumbled out of the bag. That makes me proud to hear about you being so kind and helpful!”
  • “What’s one thing you could do to be kind at recess today?”
  • “Thank you for apologizing to your brother. Let’s think of some ways you could show him more kindness next time something like this happens.”
  • “Miss Salinas told me she got your thank-you note. She said it made her feel extra good about being a teacher.”
  • “You handled your new classmates’ questions about your birthmark so well. It must be hard answering the same questions every time you meet new friends, but you were patient and kind with them.”

In-the-Moment Encouragement for KINDNESS:

  • “That was so nice!”
  •  “How thoughtful of you!”
  • “Your kindness made me smile.”
  • “You made today better by being kind.”
  • “I love your kind heart.”
  • “Thank you for showing kindness.”
  • “I heard about the nice thing you did today.”
  • “You’re such a thoughtful helper.”
  • “You made your friends feel great!”
  • “We all forget to be kind sometimes. How can you be kinder next time?”

Ways to encourage kids to be brave  

Starting a new school, visiting the doctor, making new friends…kids’ lives are full of situations that call on their courage. As adults, it can be easy to forget all the things that were scary to us when we were young.

But if we’re paying attention to the children we care about, we’ll find almost daily occasions to encourage them in their growing bravery. This can happen both when they’re struggling to step up and do a scary thing and also when they’ve just made an attempt to do something that frightened them.

What to write or say to encourage BRAVERY:

  • “This note is good for unlimited hand squeezes when you get your shot today—plus unlimited hugs after.”
  •  “It’s okay to feel scared about starting a new school. I get nervous about new things, too. I’ll be thinking about you extra on your first day and looking forward to hearing how it went when I pick you up.”
  • “Thank you for telling me you broke the plate. That took bravery, and it means a lot that you were honest about it.”
  •  “I know you’re nervous about giving your book report to the whole class today. I hope it helps to remember how hard you’ve worked on it. You are ready!”
  •  “You were very brave getting your cavity filled at the dentist. I’m proud of you for cooperating even though it wasn’t fun.”
  • “I’m proud of you for trying to ride without your training wheels! It’s okay that you weren’t quite ready yet. You are so close! You can try it again whenever you want to.”
  • “Thank you for inviting Aidan to sit with you on the field trip today. He needed a friend, and you stepped up for him in a big way. I could tell by his smile that you made him feel great.”
  • “You were so brave going on your first cookie-selling trip today. It’s not easy asking people to buy something, but you tried your best and did an awesome job!”

In-the-Moment Encouragement for BRAVERY:

  • “You can do it.”
  • “You got this!”
  • “I believe in you.”
  •  “I saw that brave thing you did.”
  • “Wow! What a brave choice you made.”
  • “I’ll be right here if you need me.”
  • “I’ll help you if you need it.”
  • “It’s okay to be scared.”
  •  “That took courage.”
  • “I’m proud that you tried. Don’t give up.”

Ways to encourage kids to be themselves  

Even before they become self-aware teens, kids often struggle to be themselves, especially when it means being singled out as different. Whether it’s a difference in cultural heritage, ability or even what sport they like best, kids benefit from loving reminders that the world needs them just as they are—their ideas, their talents, their dreams, their differences, their unique personalities. When we encourage kids to be themselves, we empower them to change the world for the better by sharing all they are.

What to write or say to encourage BEING YOURSELF:

  • “It may take time, but soon, I hope you can relax and be yourself at your new day camp. Your class is going to be so lucky to have your fun ideas and sense of humor.”
  • “That’s okay that you didn’t want to pet the dog we met at the park. Some people like dogs, but not everyone does. You’re more of a goldfish person, and that’s cool, too.”
  • “That Lego creation is really inventive. Tell me about what you’re making.”
  • “Don’t let anyone tell you your braids aren’t awesome. I think they’re beautiful! And they’re part of who you are, which makes me love them even more.”
  • “I really like the way you used so much purple in this drawing. What made you choose that color?”
  • “It is so good having you in dance class. You bring a unique kind of energy and movement that we all learn from. We need that! We need you! I hope you’ll keep dancing for as long as you like doing it.”
  • “Just be you and have fun. I believe in my heart you’re going to find friends who get you and like who you are.”
  •  “I loved learning about the rebozo your abuela gave you. Thanks for sharing a piece of who you are with all of us!”
  •  “After you talked about our family celebrating Hanukkah, Noah was so excited to say that his family celebrates Hanukkah, too. You inspired him to share something about himself just like you did!”

In-the-Moment Encouragement for BEING YOURSELF:

  • “I like hearing your ideas.”
  •  “You make me smile just by being you.”
  • “Love you exactly as you are.”
  •  “I like the person you’re becoming.”
  • “The story you wrote is really funny.”
  • “There’s no one else exactly like you.”
  • “That’s so creative!”
  • “Tell me more about this painting you did.”
  • “I like how your mind works.”
  • “I admire how you’re not afraid to be yourself.”
  • “You have such a cool way of seeing things.”
  • “The world is lucky to have you in it.”

Ways to encourage kids to be team players  

Kids grow best when they feel connected to something bigger than themselves, from their family to the classes, teams and community they’re a part of. Contributing to a team focused on service or giving projects, (https://ideas.hallmark.com/articles/kids-ideas/how-to-teach-kids-about-giving/ ) in particular, can help shape kids’ awareness of the community they belong to and the positive role they can play in caring for it. Whatever form it takes, teamwork can be one of the clearest and most immediate ways for kids to see how their actions make the world better for everyone around them.

What to Write to Encourage TEAMWORK:

  • “You, Sam and Trey worked together so well on your skit. Everyone’s ideas got a chance to shine. Great teamwork!”
  •  “My favorite part of the game was when you passed to Talia so she would have a chance to score. You’re a good teammate.”
  •  “Even though you didn’t get the lead part like you wanted, you still did your very best with your part. That made the whole play better. Proud of you.”
  • “You’re really good at knowing when to lead and when to support someone else’s move.”
  • “Thank you for helping set up and serve the potluck dinner! You made the work go faster, and your smile and energy added a lot of fun.”
  •  “Look at all these coats, hats and gloves you helped collect! I know some kids are going to be really glad to get these.”
  • “Thanks for helping a little with picking up leaves. Now that you know how it’s done, I challenge you to be an even bigger helper next time.”
  • “It looked like you and Mr. Wade were having a great talk over the fence. I love how you always make time to be friendly with our neighbors.”
  • “I’m so impressed that your class raised money for all that new playground equipment. You really put your heads together and worked as a team.”

In-the-Moment Encouragement for TEAMWORK:

  •  “Nice teamwork.”
  • “Way to help each other!”
  • “So glad you’re on our family team.”
  • “I’d want you on my team any day.”
  • “Your class is lucky to have you.”
  • “I love that I can count on you.”
  • “You helped make something great happen!”
  • “You help everyone do their best.”
  • “You add something unique and special to the team.”
  • “I love how you give everyone a chance to jump in.”
  • “How can you be a better teammate next time?”