Words of Parental Encouragement

Words of Parental Encouragement

Here’s how to refocus the way you talk to your child to boost him or her to success.

By: Heidi Vetter

We all want our children to succeed in life. We want them to have the confidence and knowledge it takes to ace that exam, score the winning goal and have meaningful relationships with other people. However, success isn't the natural result of every endeavor. Life has its fair share of failure and disappointment.

For me, my child's success isn't based on the end result of a particular endeavor, but on the process. Did she congratulate the winner of a game she lost? Did she resolve to study harder after she failed an exam? Did she offer a sincere and meaningful apology when she wronged someone? How do I encourage all of my children to be resilient, hardworking, honest and kind?

Lesson 1: The Golden Rule (With Love)
When it comes to encouraging children, first and foremost, they need to feel loved. They need to feel important. Early on in my children’s young lives, I noticed they thrived when there was peace and love in our home. They felt comfortable asking questions if they were met with thoughtful responses (even if they were in trouble).

If my child asked why she shouldn't hit her sister, I didn't respond with a "because I said so." Instead, I’d sit her down and calmly explain — after a good time-out, mind you — that hurting anyone is wrong. Even if that person made you mad, even if a sibling didn't share or even if a friend was mean to you, violence is never the answer. I wouldn’t take a rude tone, just a matter-of-fact one. She should feel remorse, but not at the cost of feeling demeaned. I'd emphasize how much I love her and how much her siblings love her. I'd tell her I know she’s a great kid and I know she’ll make the right choice later. I’d empower her.


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They realize they're in control of themselves. When I react in this way, I notice that they show greater love to their siblings (and others) in the future. We need to remember that children are blank slates when they come to us. They don't inherently know why they shouldn't do something — they need to be taught. All teaching should be done with love.

Lesson 2: The Value of Hard Work
Children should also be taught the value of hard work. It will pay huge dividends in the future! At a very young age, children need to know that it’s OK to fail, it’s OK to lack knowledge and it’s OK to lose. Teach them to see these as opportunities, not failures. Not knowing the answer to a math problem shouldn’t make them feel stupid, it should be taken as an exciting opportunity to solve a puzzle. Losing doesn’t mean that they should quit a sport they love, it should be seen as an opportunity to work harder or train differently. Emphasize that you are very proud of the work your child did during the game. Define success by how hard your child worked, not whether he or she won.

Lesson 3: Redefine Success
Redefine your definition of success. Teaching your children to work hard and loving them unconditionally will help them overcome disappointment and trial. She’ll begin to realize that even though her science project didn't win first place, the countless hours of preparation and study that lead to learning and discovery are what really matters.

Most of all, remember that your children need to feel loved. Parents who are genuinely interested in the lives of their children and love them unconditionally will boost their self-esteem. Encouraging parents are loving parents.

Heidi Vetter is a contributor for the creative site, Somewhat Simple. She is a nurse turned stay-at-home mom/photographer! She has three fantastic kids and she loves making beautiful things and taking beautiful photos!

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