8 Phrases to Strengthen Willpower in Children

Willpower is an inner energy that drives us to achieve everything we set our minds to. It's important that we strengthen willpower in children rather than destroying it.
8 Phrases to Strengthen Willpower in Children
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 10 October, 2022

What can we do to strengthen willpower in children? We all have within us an inner strength that directs us to achieve what we desire. Our mission as parents is to help our children find that strength. For example, there are phrases that motivate them and help them believe in themselves.

Many beleive that it’s possible to improve and develop willpower, but sometimes the problem lies in the parenting itself. Parents sometimes diminish that drive, so when our children grow up, they have to relearn it. When we do things for them without letting them try to overcome their obstacles, we diminish their willpower.

For this reason, it’s important to encourage that inner strength in a number of ways, including phrases and expressions. That way, little ones will always be able to follow that impulse that leads them to strive to get what they want. In the following article, we’re going to give you some ideas of phrases that you can use.

8 Phrases to Strengthen Willpower in Children

What is willpower in children?

We can define willpower as a kind of impulse or energy that’s within us. Thanks to this inner drive, we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves and overcome any obstacles we encounter along the way. This potential is within us from the moment we’re born.

Self-control has a lot to do with willpower in children, as it helps us to direct our behaviors towards what we want or desire. But when it comes to children, it’s difficult for them to use their own willpower, for example, to brush their teeth, because they rarely want to. This is rather the acquisition of a habit or a routine.

The important thing is that we parents focus on positive behaviors to help our children foster that willpower. It’s paramount for them to see that we trust them and let them do things for themselves. We need to let them try. Even if they fail, we must never take away their will to do something – even if we have to be with them supporting and guiding them in what they need.

How to strengthen willpower in children

There are some signs that may indicate a lack of willpower, such as postponing something that’s more difficult or urgent and prioritizing simpler tasks or waiting to do something because we don’t have enough courage to do it.

We can use some phrases to make children understand that they have an inner power that will help them achieve everything they want. In this way, they’ll gain self-confidence and their willpower will become stronger.

Phrases you can use…

  • “What could you do to solve X issue or to make it better?” When your child is faced with a problem, ask them what they can do to look inside themselves. Once they’ve answered, praise them and tell them that they’ve done very well, and since they’ve looked for a solution, they can put it into action.
  • “It’s wonderful to see how well you’ve picked up your room and tidied up your toys.” This will motivate them to see that this impulse they’ve felt to tidy their room has been rewarded, which is our congratulations.
  • “You have a giant heart and I love to see how you like to help others.” When your child does something to help someone, you can say this phrase. That way, you’ll encourage his behaviors to do good deeds and that they come from himself.
  • “What a good helper you are, your help was been essential to achieving this.” When you do a task together, praise them in this way and let them see that you trust them 100%.
  • “Your ideas are very good, you should always try to carry them out. I’m sure they’ll turn out well and, if they don’t, you just have to keep trying. In the end, you’ll succeed.”
  • “It’s always been clear to me that you have an enormous capacity to achieve everything you desire.”
  • “Whenever you want something, you have to find a way to achieve it.” And you’ll let them know that, if they need your help, you’ll be there to help and support them.
  • “I really like to see how, with your hard work and effort, you show me how great you’re becoming.”

Phrases that don’t work

Just as there are phrases that help our children to strengthen their willpower, there are also phrases that we shouldn’t say because they do just the opposite. Especially if we focus more on the negative aspects than on the positive ones. Here are some examples:

8 Phrases to Strengthen Willpower in Children
  • “You’re not good at riding a scooter, you’d better do something else.” This sentence can do a lot of harm to our child. Therefore, we can change that sentence for this one: “I’m sure you’ll eventually get the hang of riding a scooter. I’ll help you and accompany you every time you want to try.” We must let our children take the initiative; it doesn’t matter if it’s been a few days or a few months.
  • “I’ve told you to always wash your hands before meals; you never do well what I tell you.” Instead of this sentence, we can say: “Do you remember what we always have to do before we eat? Let’s see if this week we can make sure we don’t forget to do it. I trust in your ability.
  • “If you were more hardworking, you’d get better grades.” Don’t use this kind of phrase. Always reinforce their efforts by telling them that we know they’re working hard and that, in the end, their grades will improve.

In short, we can improve and work on willpower in children from the time they’re young. We have to be very careful with our phrases or expressions because, sometimes, these can end up damaging the inner strength that we all have.

Remember that we always have to allow them to try things on their own – even hard things. We should never cut their wings, as that way, we’d be mitigating the willpower they have.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.