Beyond “Good Job!”

November 10, 2016

Words for Encouragement

Certain signs, numbers, symbols or words can remind us of someone who positively influenced our lives. When I see the number 88, I remember my dad who played football for Indiana University in the 1950’s. His football jersey sported the number 88! My dad, D. Robert Inserra, was from a poor Italian family who settled in dad-inserra-picMonongahela, Pennsylvania. Being an athlete and a fairly decent student, he left his hometown and entered college with a football scholarship.

A couple of years ago while visiting Wooster, Ohio for my daughter Madeline’s graduation from the College of Wooster, we were eating dinner at Matsos, a Greek-owned Italian restaurant, when I noticed the title on the paper placemat: 88 Words of Encouragement. Could there really be 88 ways to encourage others? 

As parents, guardians, mentors and care givers who work tirelessly to support young children, finding the right words to show encouragement is important. The typical ‘go to’ phrase these days is “Good Job!” Yet these two words can be rather empty and repetitive. They easily come to mind when we are challenged throughout any demanding or overwhelming day. There is more to encouragement than ‘good job’. We forget that children are growing spiritually as well as physically and emotionally. Practicing simple affirmations every day builds decency, civility and all around more respectful relationships—not to mention a wider understanding of what it means to live in an encouraging way when things get tough. We can lead by example and widen our repertoire of encouragement for everyone we interact with each day.

Excerpt from 88 Words of Encouragement:
2. Keep it up! 5. WOW! 8. Good thinking! 11. Superb! 13. You make it look easy. 16. You’re getting better every day. 21. I knew you could do it. 28. Fine! 31. You’re doing beautifully. 45. You’re really improving. 51. I like that about you. 57. You are a blessing. 65. I love you! 68. You did a lot of work today! 70. Now you have the hang of it! 74. I didn’t even have to remind you—super! 79. You did it that time! 80. How did you do that? 83. Tremendous 84. That’s better. 85. You are amazing! 88. Just being you makes you special to me. God bless you!

Catherine Inserra is a United Methodist Deaconess Candidate & Director of Christian Formation & Youth Ministry at Trinity UMC, Wilmette, IL. She is also a United Voices for Children Board Member.