An encouraged child has the courage to try, learn from mistakes, and be comfortable with others and themselves. This sense of hope and confidence will be with the child as they approach life and its frustrations. Misbehaviour decreases because the child is motivated to contribute and has a positive sense of self. To encourage your child, try these three strategies:
Have a good relationship
A good relationship is built in day-to-day interactions. It demonstrates caring and sincerely enjoying your child and their interests.
Show respect and affection.
Don’t blame. Part of growing up and living is making mistakes. We need to learn from our mistakes.
Show empathy for your child. This means you understand how they might feel even if you feel differently.
Listen without evaluating or judging.
Show confidence in your child
Whenever possible, involve your child in decision-making. This shows you have confidence in their contribution and value it.
Give responsibility. Don’t do for your child what they can do for themselves.
Encourage your child to act even when they are fearful, so they will learn they can overcome fears.
Encourage your child’s curiosity and help them explore ways of finding information by themselves.
Acknowledge their efforts
Tell your child what you specifically like in their effort. Emphasize the deed (what was done) and not the doer (the person).
Emphasize the good feelings within your child instead of your feelings. Your child learns they should feel good about something in their work.
Provide nonverbal acknowledgment, such as a smile or wink.
Other things to keep in mind:
Your child needs to know they are on the right path, so give feedback and show your appreciation.
Do not dominate. If your child has the responsibility and the information, then leave the job to them. If you dominate, your child thinks they are being judged or that the task at hand is really not their responsibility.
Be very sensitive to your child’s needs and frustrations. Many things we take for granted are difficult tasks for a young child. For older children or teens, there are different stresses. It may help to break tasks into smaller steps.
Perfectionist standards can be intimidating and very discouraging.
Children are very sensitive to humiliation or "putdowns." They know they cannot do many things that adults can do easily.
Try not to use “but ...” with encouragement. If there is one positive thing in amongst other more negative ones, focus on the positive. We can teach later on that day or the next day.
Do not compare your child to another child. Children tend to compare themselves anyway and need to know we value the differences. If children compare themselves, say, "I liked the way you did it."
If you are challenged by parenting, reach out to the EFAP for support. You can access counselling and other parenting resource kits to support you along the way. We're here to help.