September 12th marks the day of National Encouragement, but as parents, we know that encouraging our young inventors is important everyday!
It is our job as parents to provide children with feedback about their actions. It’s been shown that children who are encouraged tend to develop a stronger sense of self-motivation and pride. Eventually, our children will be able to learn to evaluate their own actions and efforts without comparing them to others. Before we get deeper into this post, it’s important to understand the difference between praise and encouragement. Praise focuses on the child and what their parent thinks or feels. Encouragement is a non-judgmental route that tends to point out facts or processes instead of evaluating the child’s actions.
So how can you show encouragement? Here’s a list of 5 things you can do:
1. Reward the effort rather than just the success – do not look for perfection instead encourage them throughout the process. Here’s how you can do that:
- Rewarding effort shows that you’re proud of your child for working towards their goals. Say encouragement like “wow, you’ve worked really hard on that project” even if the project is not finished, or perfect, the child is more likely to tackle something similar in the future.
- Create a rewards system (ensure that not all rewards are tangible) that encourages them to keep persevering through the projects. This will break up the tasks into smaller segments that will encourage them to continue pushing on.
2. Encourage patience and persistence – help your child develop the skills they need to face challenges and keep trying until they succeed.To encourage patience and persistence try the following:
- Don’t take over the task when it becomes difficult – wait to see if they ask for help and provide verbal assistance when asked to help give hints or possible next steps
- Share a time when you failed and then succeeded at a difficult task – showing your child that hard work and effort helped you succeed and even finding times where they can see you put in the extra effort has been shown to make them more persistent themselves.
- Help your child break down the difficult task into smaller more manageable ones. This helps them achieve the larger goal in easy broken down pieces.
- Encourage your child to try new and challenging tasks. It’s key that these tasks are enjoyable to them as this is more likely to make them keep trying to achieve success.
3. Foster their learning – encourage them to learn about things they find interesting but be sure to adapt to their learning style as some kids may sit and listen to new information while others want to pick things up and start right away. Adapting to their style will ensure learning isn’t a chore and will keep it fun and engaging. There are several ways to foster learning including but not limited to:
- Getting excited about new things – if you maintain a certain level of excitement about things your child discovers they will see a continued excitement every time they learn something new.
- Give your child a choice – give them a choice in what they’d like to pursue. This will help them feel like what they think makes a difference so have them choose their own hobbies and books etc. This will encourage them to continue to grow.
- Show your support – no matter what subject they select, show your interest and support in it. Oftentimes if children perceive or suspect your disinterest they are less likely to continue on that path.
- Provide resources – by providing them with necessary resources that allow them to pursue their interest you’re not only showing an interest but also giving them the tools they need to help them succeed and foster that learning.
4. Provide context – talk to your child about what you believe and why. They are more likely to cooperate when they are given the reasoning behind things rather than an ultimatum. Here are some helpful tips on how you can provide context to your children:
- Practice mindfulness – determine what context you’re focused on versus what you may not be taking into consideration. Children more often than not have a completely different perspective than adults so being mindful of what your assumptions are in situations is a great first step in ensuring you’re on the same page as your child.
- Take the time to explain context to your children. Providing them with insights on the context surrounding a situation will help them understand their actions and your own and encourage them to act a certain way. Often kids want to understand the why behind things so explaining the context will provide them with this critical insight and build their understanding.
5. Instill optimism – focus on solutions to problems instead of dwelling on setbacks. Encourage your child to try a new approach and lead by example. Optimism and positive attitudes can be learned by children. As humans we are not stuck in a particular mindset, therefore, optimism is a powerful insight for children to have. Here are a few ways you can promote optimism in your children:
- Lead with empathy – if your child experiences a setback and is upset, respond with empathy by validating your child’s feelings. Tell them that it’s alright and natural to be frustrated, once your child has calmed down begin to brainstorm solutions to the problem they are facing.
- Encourage your children to take a break if they feel frustrated. Rather than dwelling on their negative feelings, offer them a break to take their minds off of whatever has upset them. This will provide them with a moment of relief that can help keep her proper perspective.
- Children are typically prone to an all-or-nothing mentality, encouraging your child to view the progress that they’ve made and the little achievements they’ve hit.
Here’s a fun activity we’ve created for your children to participate in Encouragement Day. The Encouragement Jar activity promotes positive thinking and creativity when it comes to problem solving. The jar includes quotes from well-known problem-solvers to help your children persevere and break down daunting tasks into manageable ones. They can even be creative not only in decorating the jar but in writing out their own quote to push them forward!
If you’re looking for some additional fun STEAM activities that you could do with your child check out the activities on theyounginventorsclub.com – not only is there a dashboard filled with great activities but every month new blog posts are released with even further content!