ABC’s of Parenting – E – Encouragement

Today’s word: Encouragement.

“You can do it. I believe in you.”  It’s amazing how such a small statement can change your efforts from near to quitting to pushing ahead to finish.

Kids need our support and encouragement as they move through life. After all, we are the adults that they count on the most in their lives, so having us as cheerleaders means even more. Whether it be something like finishing their math questions or playing their favourite sport or aiming for a specific goal – it’s up to us to help them not give up.

How can we as parents encourage our kids?

1. Be there. Simply by being beside them, interested in what they are doing, and keeping them focused is one of the biggest things a parent can do. Answering questions as they arise, asking questions to keep their brains from falling stagnant and tired, providing a new way of looking at a situation, and being genuinely interested in what they are doing are some of the keys to this. Any time a parent is interested in what they are doing, kids tend to excel and bloom. (Not always, but quite often!)

2. Avoid empty praise. There’s a habit in our society to overuse phrases like “Good Boy!” or “Good job!” While there’s nothing really WRONG with these statements, they don’t really speak to the specifics of the situation. Instead they set up a good/bad, succeed/fail kind of attitude that can really dishearten a child if they don’t make it. Instead aim to focus on what your child is doing. “Wow – you did it! I knew you could!” or “That Math question was so hard. I loved how you really tried to figure out the answer.” or “You shared your favourite toy with your little sister. She looks so happy!”

3. Be careful with a reward system. Gold stickers. Fake money and points. Candy and treats. These have long been staples of the world. I admit, I’ve used them too. The challenge of these kinds of rewards is that it’s visually possible to see the areas that they’ve actually succeeded and failed. If a child has failed more than succeeded, it can really drag them down. Some kids don’t work well with that kind of pressure. Be careful not to make it a competition or to focus on the failures. Instead, make rewards be spontaneous and encouraging: “I saw that you have really been working hard to bring up your grades at school. I thought I’d take you out for a treat.”

4. Let them set goals, and make them SMART. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based. If can be really hard to understand how to attain a personal goal. Help your child set a goal that meet these criteria, and then help them break it down into smaller steps and chunks. As they move towards their goal – make sure to follow up or remind them of the little steps they have to complete along the way. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed by the big picture instead of looking at the stair case.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
~ Mark Twain”

How do you encourage your kids? Do you kids have goals?

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