The Art of Encouragement

The Dangers of Praise Part 2 Art of Encouragement

In The Dangers of Praise Part 1, I explain the reasons we need to break our habit of simply saying “Good Job!”, “You’re so smart”, “I’m proud of you” each time our child achieves success.

Defining Encouragement

Encouragement is an observation that can be given at any time, to anyone, in any situation. It is an observation, an acknowledgment, a statement that focuses on effort, improvement or choice, and it helps to promote self-esteem and a sense of self-worth in our children.

Encouragement implies faith in and respect for the child as he/she is. Win or loss.

Encouragement is when you look at a drawing your child made and instead of just merely saying, “Good job!” you say, “You chose yellow. What about yellow do you like? Why that shade? What were you thinking about when you drew this? Would you do anything different next time?”

BENEFITS of encouragement

If you use encouragement vs. praise on a regular basis with your children, it will teach your children to:

1. Create an internal framework for themselves in which to self-assess their own lives, their preferences, and their progress

2. Figure out what is important to THEM and pursue it with a passion

3. Spend less time asking the outside world what they think of who they are as people and more time following their dreams and exploring the wonderful world before them

I admit, it can be a hard habit to break and the fact that it feels good (to us) only increases our resistance to giving it up.

Here’s an everyday activity that you can practice to reduce (hopefully eliminate) your use of praise, and replace it with encouragement:

1. Zip the lip whenever you start to udder the praise phrases. It’s a habit, so you’ll need to watch it closely.

2. Instead of your typical praise response – it’s perfectly fine to say NOTHING, just smile…. Or give a thumbs up. Give a hug or a high five. But please, nothing verbal unless it could also be given if they had just failed.

3. Practice encouragement. Asking questions is a GREAT way to encourage. Instead of saying what YOU think – ask your child what THEY think. It takes some practice, but you’ll get it.

More than any other tool, strategy, concept or skill I use, encouragement has been and continues to be my strategy of choice. In fact, I consider encouragement “a way of being” more than a strategy. If you develop and master the art of encouragement, you’ll experience dramatic and lasting changes in both your children’s behavior and the quality of your relationship.

If you’d like more examples and resources focused on the art of encouragement delivered right to your inbox, please subscribe up above.