Encouraging Your Child

Most everyone would say they love their child, but how are you at encouraging them? I’m talking about building them up in a real way that gives them confidence and assurance.  I have to confess that I fail at this all too often as life gets in the way.  The other day my 9-year-old wanted to show me the cool things he had built on Minecraft as I tried to handle my one-year-old’s screaming demands. I was less than patient with him.  Granted, his timing could have been better, but as it hit me later in the day, I returned to him to have him show me his masterpieces.  I salvaged a moment, but I’m not always so aware.

As a parent, I am on a constant search for my children’s interests, hidden or not.  When I am fortunate enough to discover one, I am zoned in to encourage and cultivate it.  Now, many times, I can be pulled into the trap of thinking my child has to be the best at whatever we are doing – thus using my amazing parental powers to suck the fun and potential enjoyment right out of whatever they are doing.  I have found that I have to keep a few things in mind when interacting with my child if I truly want them to feel encouraged:

 

  • Be careful what I say – Measure your words. Often the wrong ones have a more lasting impact that the right ones.

 

  • Create a safe environment to explore – Make your family a place that it is okay to try new things and not be a natural at them. Encourage the effort.

 

  • Give accurate feedback – Much like in marriage, avoid words like “never” and “always” (i.e. “You never do anything the first time I tell you!”).

 

  • Listen to them – No matter what it’s about, get down on their level and intentionally hear what they have to say.

 

  • Ask questions – Show how engaged you are in what they are talking about. Even if you don’t “get” Minecraft, ask about how they built their masterpiece anyway!

 

  • Let your child be themselves – Stop living out your failed dreams/expectations through them and let them do their thing!

 

Written by Gregg Wisecarver, Director of Upward Sports Nation