Recently I have been focusing on being someone who encourages others. I want to be someone who can always encourage m husband, my friends, my family and my kids. I realized as their mum I am their biggest encourager. I am the person who is building into their life the most! Sometimes its easy to forget that we are our child’s biggest influence in life. What we say and how we say it can uplift our kids or bring them down.
Matthew 12.34-35 “It’s your heart, not your dictionary that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season.”
1. “Aren’t you proud of yourself for doing that?” – I often say to Kara “I’m so proud of you!” when she does something great and she beams a great big smile at me. But I also started to ask her, “Are you proud of yourself?” by saying it this way I’m letting her receive praise as well as encouragement to appreciate herself as well. This phrases helps our kids to become emotionally mature and learn to give themselves the support and encouragement they need to become more independent.
My daughter was whinging to be carried as she walked up the stairs, eventually she made it to the top, I could say I’m proud of you well done, but I also said “aren’t you proud of yourself for doing that?” “YES” she said. She had not only received praise but was also motivated by her own self achievement to climb the stairs again by herself!
2. “Do the best you can” – Another area where I wanted my child to have confidence was in eating. Sometimes we are at our wits end to try and get our kids to do something or eat something, especially with toddlers. It’s easy for us to say just “try it” but sometimes as we say that we are giving them the message that they can get by with a quick attempt and that’s it. Kara would always take one bite and expect to finish and then whinge when I expected her to ‘try’ more! It can become an easy way out, leaving kids having tried before finishing what needs to be done.
But when we encourage our children to “do the best they can”, we let them know what we would like them to do without putting pressure on them. We can make the path way for our kids to succeed by expressing faith in their ability and creating an environment of positive expectations. Kara is a stubborn eater and she often only wants to eat “uhm meat”. I have been the parent who succumbed to saying can you just try one piece of broccoli. But since I know she can eat all her veg, (especially when being bribed with ice cream) I introduced this phrase and have seen a huge improvement in her eating habits. Although it doesn’t always produce the direct results I hope for, she does want to do her best and she laughs and bangs the table in pride when her plate is clean!
3. “Look at…” – Sometimes we are trying to get our kids to achieve something or do something and it’s easy to praise them for what they have achieved. But sometimes it’s more difficult for them to achieve something and as parents at those times it’s important for us to praise the little steps they take towards their goals. This is true even when they fail at their goals, we can encourage them by noticing the effort they put in.
When Ted was born, Kara often had jealousy towards him, or frustration, but sometimes when she was in a good mood, she would pat him or aggressively hug him, to show her love. It was easy for me to say Kara don’t hug him so hard, he’s just a baby. But whilst I need to protect her brother, it was also important for me to say “look how happy you’ve made him!” And he surely was happy when Kara gave him attention! It was important to acknowledge her thoughtfulness because that gave her pride and happiness and encouraged her love for her brother too and her acts of kindness! Our spoken observations of our children, when spoken positively over them, are small stepping stones in the foundation of their confidence!
4. “You are good at that” – This is a phrase Kara often uses herself “I’m good at it”. She loves it when I watch what she is doing and encourage he with this phrase. She starts to notice what she can do herself and what she is good at doing and will tell me often. The more we notice and draw attention to the good things our kids are doing the more we reinforce the budding qualities we want them to develop. Kara often likes to help me clean the floor, or bring me something for her little brother. I always encourage her you are good at helping. And now when she brings me a wipe when he has puked all over me, she will tell me “I’m good at it”, “Yes Kara you are!
I hope these phrases can encourage you when you speak to your kids. Let me know how you build confidence and self-esteem in your kids. What phrases are common in your household?