What phrases do you use to help build children’s self-esteem? It’s important that you be specific in your praise by focusing on a specific act. For example, “Great job!” is a popular phrase that many educators use, but it doesn’t necessarily tell students what they did a great job on. Focusing on a specific act helps children better understand why they’re being praised while also encouraging repeat behavior. A child is much more likely to push his or her chair in again if you specifically thank them for doing that. Here are a few example phrases you can use in your classroom to build children’s self-esteem:

  • Thank you for putting the blocks on the shelf.
  • I appreciate you cleaning up your desk.
  • I’m proud of your hard work on this project.
  • You were a fantastic line leader this week!
  • Thank you for contributing your brilliant ideas!
  • I knew you could solve that math problem!
  • It was really awesome of you to share the ball.
  • I love the effort you put into your artwork.
  • Way to go on using your quiet voice in the library!
  • It was a huge help when you helped pass out the markers.

Remember to always comment on something children can control, such as their actions and behavior, instead of things beyond their control (e.g., their hair or clothes). By making a conscious effort to be more specific when praising students, you can help them build their self-esteem and self-confidence. Be sure to browse our Social and Emotional section for a variety of educational materials you can utilize in the classroom.

Free Social and Emotional Development Resources

The Social and Emotional Development and Challenging Behaviors categories of our Insights and Inspirations section feature free articles and resources that can help you support social and emotional learning and address any behavior issues you have in the classroom. Here are just a few of the available articles: