It can be difficult to achieve a sweet spot for parents who want to encourage their children. On one hand, you don’t want your child to think that you’re being fake with over-the-top pronouncements, as in “You’re the most amazing artist in the world.” But on the other hand, you also don’t want to seem uninterested, as in, “Yep, good job, Billy.”

And like most parents, you want to show your child you truly care and that you’re genuinely interested. You probably want to make it obvious that you’re truly noticing your child’s efforts. Of course, your child needs to continue to try hard or to begin to put forth an effort if they haven’t started. So, read on to learn three strategies that work best for parents who want to encourage their children.

  1. Praise Effort Above Everything Else

Your child will only succeed if they are invested in making an effort. You can encourage a hard work ethic by praising effort anytime you see it. Whether they put a great deal of effort into a homework assignment, went the extra mile in cleaning their room, or took the time to complete any difficult task, you need to tell them about it. If they receive affirmation for their efforts, they will work harder on everything they do.

2. Don’t Look for or Praise Perfection

Try to avoid saying, “That’s perfect.” Perfection is typically difficult or impossible to achieve, and your child can develop unhealthy attitudes in striving to meet perfection. In the same vein, try to avoid excessive congratulations for awards. You can praise the effort that went into achieving an award, but the award was out of your child’s control. The effort they make will always be in your child’s control.

3. Encourage Your Child as a Unique Individual

Your child is different than other children. So try not to compare them to other children, or they’ll always be comparing themselves. For example, if you felt like your child’s science project was better or worse than the other projects you saw, don’t tell them about it. Instead, comment on the unique things you noticed in their project. Your child should get the idea that there’s only one person like them, with their own special talents to offer the world.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort for parents who want to encourage their children. By simply being more aware of their efforts, you’ll give your child a boost in self-confidence. Just remember to be genuine and avoid laying the praise on too thick.