Welcome to the Beyond Discipline: 10 Building Blocks for Positive Parenting Series.
This is the 3rd post in a series of 10 on the Building Blocks for positive parenting.
Building Block #3
Encouragement is all about trusting our children, having faith in them and being a positive presence that radiates genuine interest and warmth.
When we parent with the intent to be encouraging, we don’t focus on evaluating their steps as “good” or “bad” but rather we seek to help them find their own way, to feel capable and interested in learning, achieving, doing and discovering.
By choosing to be an encouraging parent, we choose to believe that children have intrinsic motivation, a natural inborn wish to learn and be cooperative. Children make mistakes, and their behavior often needs guidance as they learn right from wrong, but they don’t need to be criticized, punished, shamed or discouraged in order to learn. We can be encouraging in those moments, just as much as we can be encouraging in moments when they are doing something well because that encouragement, regardless of if they have made a mistake or have done something right sends a powerful message:
You are capable! I believe in you. You matter.
You can do it! You can solve problems. You can overcome obstacles.
Encouragement in practice:
Make time to spend time together, special time is a great way to do this because it lets your child know that you want to spend time with them, that you value their company, their ideas and their interests.
Make decisions together by inviting cooperation instead of making decision for your child.
Resolve conflicts peacefully and with respect.
Let your child make mistakes so they have a chance to learn from them.
Teach and make time for children to practice life skills.
Think beyond praise and focus on improvement, interest and abilities and not just achievement.
Notice ways in which your message may be discouraging and replace them with encouraging messages.
Phrases that Discourage:
No, that is wrong, do it this way.
Here, let me just do it, I’m faster.
No way can you do this, you are much too young.
I don’t think you can, so just let me do it for you.
Of course you did it wrong, I told you it wouldn’t work that way.
Phrases that Encourage
How do you think it can work?
I could use your help!
Shall we do it together?
Would you like to try?
I believe in you!
You really didn’t give up!
I see it didn’t work. What do you think we should do next?
Lastly, and this one is often difficult, when a child is misbehaving, have faith that they are capable of learning what to do and give them a chance to do it over. In other words, encourage learning and making amends instead of deciding to punish or shame. For most children, after a chance to cool-off, some reflection and trying again is vastly more valuable towards life long learning and understanding social and life skills than simply sitting in a corner or not being allowed to watch a favorite TV show.
Questions for Reflection
When your child is behaving in a way that you don’t agree with, do you use encouraging statements or discouraging statement?
How can you re-focus the way you are approaching these moments so that you may provide encouragement?
When you think about being encouraging, are you mistakenly focusing solely on praise and achievement?
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PS – Stay tuned, coming up this week Kelly Bartlett will be sharing here on Positive Parenting Connection 3 Alternatives to Saying “Good Job!”
Peace & Be Well,
Latest posts by Ariadne Brill ( see all)
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