One of the most important techniques we can use as a parent is ENCOUARGEMENT.  Parents often focus on what their child is doing wrong and how to provide punishment and consequences to alter the child’s behavior.  By providing encouragement, you can convey respect for your child AS THEY ARE.  Children that misbehave are discouraged and feel as though they cannot meet their needs by any other means. 

“A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water.”

Providing a child with encouragement communicates to the child that you believe in their strength and ability.  Parents sometimes even discourage a child when they are in fact trying to be encouraging!

Discouraging Statements:

Don’t get dirty!

You aren’t old enough.

Let me show you how.

You can’t do it.

If he can do it, so can you.

You could have done better.

You should have watched me.

When will you learn?

I’ve told you a thousand times.

You did it again.

It is important to be mindful that as a parent you are providing ENCOUARGEMENT and not PRAISE.  Praise may or may not be encouraging and can come across as insincere.  Praise places an emphasis on perfection and pleasing others.  Praise is given to the “doer.”  For example, saying, “You are such a good girl for setting the dinner table.”  Encouragement is given for the deed, such as, “The dinner table looks great!”  Furthermore, praise is given for a job well done, whereas encouragement is given also when the work was done poorly: “We all make mistakes, you’ll do better next time!”

Children need to be encouraged throughout the day in numerous ways.  A simple technique is to start five times per day adding in sentences that start with “I like _______” or “I appreciate _________” directed toward your children.  It will be difficult and some days you will have to look really hard, but you can always find a way to catch your child doing things right! 

Small Ways To Provide Encouragement

I like how you are waiting patiently.

I like how you listened to directions.

I like how you brushed your teeth after breakfast.

I appreciate how you finished your dinner.

I appreciate how you gave me a hug this morning.

I appreciate hearing about your day on the way home from school.

Adding these statements into your day and your child’s day will make a remarkable difference.  Remember that the language of encouragement focuses on the child’s feelings, effort, and progress.

The Language of Encouragement:

I like the way you handled that.

Since you’re not satisfied, what do you think you can

do so you can be pleased with it?

Knowing you, I’m sure you’ll do fine!

You’ll make it!

It was thoughtful of you to _________.

I need your help on _______.

That’s a rough one, but I’m sure you’ll work it out.

It looks as if you worked really hard on that.

Look at the progress you have made.  (Be specific and tell how)