7 Simple Tips for Encouraging Your Kids
The world can be a scary place full of disappointment and failure. It’s hard enough for adults to push through the tough times. For children, though, these setbacks can seem scarier than the monster under the bed. As your child’s biggest cheerleader, you probably want to support and empower them, but how do you do that? These seven simple tips can help prepare you to encourage your child.
Set Reachable Goals
You know how good it feels to check items off your to-do list. Your child can get the same boost by setting and reaching goals. Studies suggest that setting goals may help increase motivation, but it is also good preparation for life. After all, education and work are frequently built around setting and reaching goals.
The key here is to make sure your child’s goals are reachable. Setting impossibly high standards might make your child feel incapable, so make sure to work with your child to set appropriate, attainable goals. For instance, your child may want to be the first kid in outer space, but this probably won’t happen. Instead, try to come up with a more realistic alternative goal, like learning the names of the 10 brightest stars in the sky.
Develop Specific Steps to Reach Goals
Some goals are too big to achieve quickly. Even if those big goals are entirely reachable, they may be daunting for children, which could be demotivating. That’s why it’s important to develop specific steps to reach big goals. For instance, if your child is studying a foreign language with the goal of becoming fluent, it may seem like that goal is impossibly distant. Setting specific steps toward that goal, like studying five new words a day, can put them on the right path without overwhelming them. Plus, being able to develop steps to meet their goals is a skill that may serve them well down the road!
Praise Accomplishments and Effort
We’re not going to lie: it’s all too tempting to tell children how smart or how talented they are. But the problem with statements like this is that they tend to focus on a trait which the child may not have any control over. Instead, you might consider praising a child’s accomplishments and efforts. For instance, when a child does well on a test he/she prepared for, you might say “you did such a good job studying for that test” instead of “you’re so smart.” This puts the focus on their effort rather than their intelligence, which might help encourage them to continue studying.
Be Specific with Your Praise
Generic praise can feel good, but it can also be hard to act on. Being as specific as possible may help the child better understand what they’ve done well. For instance, when a child cleans their room, saying “good job” is nice. However, what specifically was “good” about it? Did they do a thorough job? Did they organize neatly? Did they clean up without being asked? Pinpointing what exactly was “good” could make your praise seem more sincere and also help children understand what behaviors they should try to continue.
When your child does something well, give sincere praise. If your child does something nice, thank them sincerely. We’ve all probably received insincere praise and gratitude, and it doesn’t feel great. Children can often pick up on this, too, so try to make your praise and gratitude as heartfelt as possible.
In the social media age, so comparing ourselves to others comes naturally. However, comparing your child to others could affect their self-esteem and confidence. For instance “Aiden played better than you” and “your art is so much better than Sarah’s” set up an unnecessary hierarchical ranking. Instead, you might consider acknowledging the achievements of your child and other children without comparing them head-to-head.
Show Interest in What They Have to Say
Have you ever noticed that someone is ignoring you when you’re speaking? It can make you feel like your ideas don’t matter. Children can feel the same way. Showing interest in what children have to say can help show that their thoughts and interests matter to you.
How do you encourage your child? Let us know what strategies have worked for you in the comments section below!