Why All Children Need Encouraging Support
Often, we want to help our children improve their school habits, interpersonal skills, performance, and general behaviour, but our approaches don’t work at all. Sometimes, they even have the opposite effect of what we intended.
This usually happens when we point out what our children have done wrong in order to give them helpful instructions. But children may see this as persistent criticism—the most common parenting mistake.
So, how can you help your children improve, build their self-esteem, and do the right thing without engendering defensiveness and resentment? By offering them encouraging support—the right way.
Encouragement is a tool that allows you to influence your children’s habits, attitudes, and behaviours in a subtle but powerful way. It can influence how your child feels about themselves. Encouragement pays off tremendously over time, but it requires practice.
- Can result in positive attitudinal and behavioural changes.
- Enhances internal motivation, gives support and imparts confidence.
- Fosters high self-esteem and independence.
- Communicates that making mistakes is acceptable, and teaches them to learn from those mistakes.
Looking for the Good
A big part of encouragement is shifting focus to the positive things in your child’s behaviour. This requires a conscious effort from the parents. When it comes to achieving this different approach and perspective, the following techniques can be helpful:
“Once a day” Technique
At least once a day, praise each of your kids. They won’t start behaving differently right away. But, they will start doing more of what you acknowledge and notice. Over time, you will see great improvement.
Make sure to notice and comment on the positive things your children do. And, remember, even the smallest thing can be praiseworthy.
Don’t Take Your Children’s Efforts for Granted
When your children are cooperative and helpful, show appreciation. It helps to appreciate their cooperation, even when they are doing something that is expected of them, such as assigned chores.
Saying something as simple as, “You were a big help to me by washing the dishes tonight” can go a long way. We all like to be recognised for our efforts.
Focus on the Positive in Negative Situations
When it comes to really negative situations, this can be difficult. But it is not impossible. For instance, you should acknowledge what your child has done, and overlook parts of a job not well done.
Let’s say your child cleaned their room. You can say something along the lines, “I like how you’ve got this desk organised. I bet it’s easy to find things on it; it looks really nice as well.” If their closet happens to be messy, you can wait until another time to comment on it.
Break Learning Tasks Into Smaller Goals
When you break a task into smaller goals, it will be more achievable. Your child will feel more successful along the way, and you will have more opportunities to encourage them.
Just as you applauded every step your child made when you taught them how to walk, you can use the same approach with every area of their life.
For example, you can say, “Checking out resources was a really good way to start with your project. Good thinking!”
By focusing on the smaller steps that lead toward a bigger goal, your children will feel that you appreciate what they do even if they don’t get everything right. This will help them realise that it is worth making the effort.
Watch Out For Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
Sometimes, we expect the worst from our children without even realising it. This sets the stage for a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.
Use the positive aspects of self-fulfilling prophecies to your advantage. If you treat a child as a talented and smart human being, they will be more likely to internalise these attitudes and act accordingly. This is known as the Pygmalion effect.
Make Your Children a Part of the Decision-Making Process
Action and participation build confidence. You will communicate to your children that you trust them to make good decisions and that you are confident in their abilities by involving them in age-appropriate decision making.
For instance, you can say “Let’s see where we can go for our next family holiday. Maybe you can look up some interesting places on the internet?”
Making mistakes is part of learning and development. And, let’s not forget, your children will be in a process of experimentation and growth for as long as they are children.
Children are not failures if they fail at something. Help them realise this. Teach them that mistakes simply give them information about what not to do again.
Recall Past Positive Experiences
You are a treasure chest of your children’s noble deeds and triumphs. Remind them how far they’ve come when the times are difficult.
For example, if your child is learning how to read, you can tell them how much more skilful they are at reading than they were a month ago.
If your kid is struggling to read a new book, you can remind them how not so long ago they had trouble sounding out three-letter words, and point out how much they’ve progressed since then.
This will help your children recognise and appreciate their developing capabilities. By recalling the past successes of your children, you will nurture their self-esteem. Every now and then, take a note of how your children are progressing in various areas.
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