Often, what holds children back from trying something new is fear of failure or the memory of a time they didn’t do well on something. We can help break that cycle by avoiding evaluative statements such as “good job” and opt to use encouraging words instead and offering our children opportunities to try things again…and again…and again!
“I can’t do it!” said my 3 year old daughter as she struggled with her t-shirt.
“Yet – you haven’t figured it out just yet. I saw you trying.” was my answer. “Would you like more time to work on that?”
“Yes!” My daughter tried again and struggled again. She poked her arms through the neckline, she took her shirt off again and sat there, looking at me in her swim suit and completely frustrated. “Nope….not yet mama….”
“Not yet, sweet pea!” I said.
“Ughghgh…. I try ONE more time!!” offered my daughter, not quite happy but not willing to give up either.
I sat down and waited. I started reading a book and then…a little smile showed up right in my face, with her t-shirt on, she took her hands and placed them on my cheeks “DONE MAMA!” and she walked away singing.
“Yet” is a really powerful word. It can infuse hope and encouragement into a child that is struggling or doubting herself.
It’s tempting to jump in and DO for our children. Sometimes time is ticking and we just don’t feel like we can wait. But…Children can and do acquire problem-solving skills, confidence and grit through experience. Trying, failing, trying again.
Sometimes children will choose to give up and revisit another day…that’s ok too. We don’t need to force, bribe or make wild promises. If we offer trust, patience and encouragement, our child’s own successes will be their biggest motivators.
Our words as parents though can really have an impact on how children choose to move forward. “That’s not right”, “hold it! let me do that for you”, “that’s not how it’s done” can be discouraging. On the other hand “not YET”, “I see you trying”, “you can’t do it YET, want to try again?” “want more time to work on that?” can be very encouraging.
World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck explains in this video why “YET” is a fantastic and encouraging word and a great confidence booster!
So, what words do you choose for encouraging your child when she is struggling?
Peace & Be Well,
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