Childhood is full of learning new things, from start to finish. From their very first independent steps or words, to riding a bike, to reading, and far beyond, children are constantly learning new things. One of the most important ways to make sure your child is always ready to try again is by encouraging them, and teaching them to encourage others! It is easy for children to end up making fun of other children when they make mistakes, but you can help prevent it! How? By teaching your child to be encouraging!
Encouraging or Discouraging
Keep your eyes out for opportunities to talk to your kids about encouraging and discouraging responses to situations. Did they fall down trying to learn how to ride a bike? Encourage them with words like “it’s okay, accidents happen! Let’s try again!” or “That was a great first try! Are you ready to try again?” Make sure your encouragement focuses on the effort they put in, and is descriptive. Instead of a generic “Good job!” tell them what they did that was good. Then, later that day, talk to them about how it made them feel to hear those kind words. Ask them how they might have responded if those words were discouraging instead, like “I can’t believe you messed it up!” or “You just can’t do this right!” Talk about the difference between encouraging words and discouraging words, and how important it is to respond to situations in a way that is encouraging.
Lead By Example
Make sure you are showing them what an encouraging person acts and talks like! Some great examples of encouraging responses to success and failure can be found in this article on the difference between praise and encouragement. Ask your child questions about what they are doing to improve, or what they did to make a particular attempt successful or unsuccessful. Keep conversations open, and let them talk about their feelings, their goals, and what they think could make each following attempt better. Take the time to encourage them every day, even if it’s just in a few little ways.
Teach Children How To Respond To Their Own Mistakes
As they get older, pay attention to the way they respond to their own mistakes! Do they respond by encouraging themselves, resting if needed and then trying again? Do they respond by beating themselves up and getting stuck in failure? First, listen intently to how your child is feeling. Help your child label their emotions. Are they sad, angry, frustrated, or something else entirely? Equip your child with the right words for the emotions they are feeling, help them evaluate why they feel that way, and make a plan together to help them do better and feel better next time. If they respond to their own mistakes in an encouraging way, they are more likely to encourage others, and can lead by example in their peer group!
Encourage Them To Encourage Others
When you see your child encouraging another person, encourage that behavior! Let them know that, just like they want to hear people say kind things to them, other kids want to hear kind things. Encouraging them as they encourage others is a great way to build a lifelong habit of encouraging people around them, which will help them socially. Everyone wants to be around an encourager!