Tips to Help Teach Encouragement

Encouragement is extremely contagious. If someone gives you praise, it sets the stage for you to do the same for someone else's efforts.

Children are exactly the same; through recognizing and encouraging their efforts, not just their successes, you teach your children the value of encouraging others and how they can pass along praise in an effective way. 


Here are 5 Keys to Encourage Children to Encourage Themselves:

1. "Catch" them being good.

  • Often, parents spend time focusing on behavior that needs correction, but it's also important to recognize and reward positive behavior.
  • Look for when your children do good things and then validate those behaviors.

2. Offer them a challenge.

  • Suggest a project that challenges their skills, such as making dinner or building something that needs to withstand weight.
  • Giving children opportunities for problem solving and critical thinking allow them to build self-confidence when they succeed and try again after failing.

3. Praise your child for trying something difficult.

  • Use phrases such as "you worked really hard to..." or "I know it was difficult to...but you did a great job."
  • It allows children to feel good about themselves and to perservere when facing difficult tasks.

4. Encourage your child to solve his or her own problem first when facing a challenge.

  • Step in, if needed, to give direction or encouragement, but refrain from automatically providing the solution.
  • Congratulate him or her when he or she has a successful solution.

5. Avoid getting upset about failures. 

  • Often times, it's easier to express disappointment when your child underperforms, but you can use the opportunity to encourage them instead. At the end of the day, all children just want to know their parents are proud of them. Show your pride, love, and trust by:
    • Continually encouraging them to keep trying at that math formula until they get it right.
    • Giving them advice and tips on how to score a goal.
    • Taking them for a treat after a loss or failure so they feel renewed to try harder next time. 

Encouragment Activity: Roses and Thorns

Each day, perhaps at dinnertime, have each person in the family take a turn to share one success or positive thing from the day (rose) and one mistake or problem from the day (thorn). Not only does this open up communication within your family, it "teaches children to feel good about their successes and also recognize that mistakes and problems are just part of the process. It leads to more self-assured, resilient, and competent kids at any age." —Nicole Beurkens, PhD, licensed child psychologist.

From Reader's Digest