My son, Ryan, and I love taking the time to go to the basketball court and shoot some hoops.

It’s interesting what he does almost after every shot – he discreetly looks at me to see how I would react.

Almost every time, I try to give him a thumbs up sign to encourage him, whether he makes the shot or not.

According to a research experiment published in Psychological Science which was led by Lysann Damisch of the University of Cologne in Germany, a dexterity task that normally took more than 5 minutes was accomplished in just over 3 minutes, on average, if participants received an encouraging luck message before they started.

Dads, you have the power within your reach to encourage your children – a word, a smile or a simple thumbs up sign will go a long long way.

Here’s a list of encouraging words you may add to your everyday conversations with your kids. (Taken from Parenting Exchange by Karen Stephens)

• Your skills are really improving; you’ve outdone yourself today!

• How kind of you to share toys with your friend.That’s very generous.

• You are taking such good care of your pet. He’s so lucky to have you!

• Now THAT’S what I call a thorough job! Thanks for picking up your toys.

• That’s a great effort; don’t worry about that small mistake.

• Keep at it; I know you’ll figure it out. How can I help?

• You are such a good learner! I’m impressed by your concentration.

• I remember when you were first learning that. You’ve come a long way.

• You’re so fun around the house; life would be boring without you!

• What would I have done without you today? Thanks for cleaning the house with me.

• I’m so proud to tell people I’m your mom (dad).

• It’s wonderful to see you so happy with your performance.

• I appreciate your attention to detail. You are one sharp cookie.

• Your patience is commendable. Keep at it; I know you’ll get it yet.

• You’re doing a great job of controlling your anger.

• You’re on the right track! That’s using your brain.

• Hey, you’re getting the hang of it! Your practice is really paying off.

• Your attitude is a very respectful attitude. I appreciate that.

• How sensitive you are to your brother’s feelings.

• I love your sense of humor. How do you think up those jokes?

• You hang in there when the going gets tough. You’re a strong person.

• Look how much progress you’ve made.You should be proud.

• What a good memory you have. That effort deserves a high five!

• I really enjoyed your performance. No one could have done it better.

• Keep trying; I know you can work this frustrating problem out.

• How calm you were when you got that bad news. You are really maturing.

• It’s a real gift to me when you do your chores without being reminded.

• I have to hand it to you; you did exactly what you set out to do.

• Congratulations, you can be proud of your achievement!