Behavior Management: Praise and Encouragement – 91 Ways to Say “Good for You”


This is a series of seven blogs to help teachers, parents and therapists bring students under instructional control so that teaching can occur. The components of the series are

  1. Behavior Management: An Overview
  2. Behavior Management: Bribes or Rewards – The Fundamental Question
  3. Behavior Management: Praise and Encouragement
  4. Behavior Management: Activities as Reinforcers
  5. Behavior Management: Point Systems
  6. Behavior Management: Behavior Contracts
  7. Behavior Management: Why it works

The Importance of Praise and Encourgement

Teachers, parents and coaches need a large repertoire of highly positive praise statements to reinforce their students, children and/or players efforts.

These praise statements do not come naturally to most of us. Like everything else we have to learn to accentuate the positive. We need to practice saying good things to children.

At first, our statements may sound contrived and insincere to us, but they may sound entirely different to the child. Children need and love attention. If you don’t believe that just count the number of times in one hour that your child says your name. One of our major tasks as parents is to provide feedback to our children about their behavior.

It is easy to criticize and to belittle a child. Punishment works faster than praise but it comes with a high price. It is much more difficult to hold back the criticism and “catch the child being good.” Attention is a powerful reinforcer of children’s behavior, equally powerful whether it is positive or negative.

The long-term effects of positive versus negative statements to children are dramatic. It is obvious that we need to focus on the positive, and eliminate the negative. It is also best for the kids.

91 Ways to Say “Good for You”

Many parents do not have large praise repertoires. They need to increase the number of ways they can say “Good for you”. Here is a list to memorize.

Great Job You’ve got it. You’re doing a good job.
You are very good at that. That’s much better. Sensational
I’m happy to see you working like that. Now you’ve figured it out. That’s the best you’ve ever done.
I knew you could do it. Great Keep working- you’re doing better.
Perfect That’s right. You made that look easy
Right on! Nice Going. That’s the way to do it.
That’s better. Terrific! You did that well.
Much Better You just mastered that. All right.
Correct. I like the way you did that. Superb.
Well Done Outstanding That’s a big gain
You’re really improving Now you’ve got it. Keep it up.
Tremendous! Best Yet. Good thinking
That’s beautiful Wow! Keep on trying
I like that. I’m really proud of you. You figured it out.
That’s Good. That’s even better You’re the best.
Excellent Good work Great try
See how much better you are You did that very well Bingo!
Congratulations You’re a star Nice
Good for you You are learning so much You are learning so fast
Look at you! I knew you could do it That’s gotta feel good
You’re so smart. Dynomite!! Your almost there
Show me that again Yippee! How does that feel?
Take a bow Wonderful. Good remembering
Look at that! Awesome Yes
I’m proud of your work. See what you have learned Nice going.
Good paying attention You can do this See, I told you so
You are Sooo smart. Marvelous Now that’s perfect
Wahoo! Look at you! You amaze me!
Good working hard. You’ve been practicing. You are so much fun to teach.
Got it! Points for you. Great score
You make it look easy.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Take this list and put each praise statement on a flashcard. Read the flashcards once each day for 3-5 minutes.  Then take a piece of paper and write as many praise statements as you can in one minute. You should be able to write between 20–30 words in one minute. When you have reached that standard, you will be fluent and now you have a larger praise repertoire. Now all you have to do is catch your children being good. Reward improvement. Ignore little deviations and wait for a chance to reward an appropriate behavior.


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