Eight Ways To Encourage Your Kids by Brock Meyers

Got this in my inbox today…thought I’d share it…its a good read.

Eight Ways To Encourage Your Kids by Brock Meyers

Parenting may be one of the oldest occupations, but new parents aren’t routinely issued a user’s manual when they bring home their newborn child. (Conversely, it’s more complicated to become a legal driver with a valid permit than to it is to become a parent.)

By the time most parents have gained wisdom from their hard-earned years of experience, their fledgling offspring have grown into adults and moved out. Although this is the ultimate goal of any parent (to have independent children), alas, no toddling offspring remain at home to reap the benefits of such wisdom. Some parents in this position take up quilting or golf or a second career. I chose to write about how you can encourage your children. Why? It’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do, and I don’t want you to miss out.

1) How do you think of your kids? Blessing or Burden? Bear with me for a moment. I know you think your child is a blessing. You’re reading an article about encouraging your child. I always felt the same way, yet there were parts of my children’s childhood that I didn’t enjoy as much as I should have. There were times when I was gritting my teeth waiting for the next stage. It had to be better, right? It took a couple stages (that in hindsight moved forward at lightning speed) for me to realize there’s good and bad at every stage. Will you focus on the dirty diapers or the sweet scent of your baby’s head….or how she giggles when you give her a raspberry on her tiny belly? You may think the shift is slight, but your child will sense the difference. Value what’s excellent and encourage it!

2) Praise, praise, praise. After you’ve found what’s excellent (or even just 3 degrees better than mediocre) tell him!! Everyone does something right. Find it and focus on it. Be specific. “Hey, I like how you helped your brother with his math!” Or for the child who has trouble getting started in the morning, you might say, “Yay, Lindsay! You’re early this morning! You’re really learning how to manage your time well.” Affirming behavior you like encourages more of the same. Be observant. Praiseworthy items are happening right under your nose. No kidding!

3) One-on-one time. Life can easily gallop away from us at breakneck speed. One-on-one time needs to be scheduled – it rarely happens spontaneously. The parents I know who’ve had the best track record with this concept are the ones whose work schedules keep them away from their children. They have to be creative and diligent to make one-on-one time a reality. For instance, one dad I know works 2 weeks at a job site and 1 week at home. During his week at home, he makes a point to schedule working out individually with his middle school sons. Another dad who works 2nd shift (3-11 p.m.) takes his teenage daughter out for breakfast once every couple weeks. For our own family, shopping with one parent is a treat. There are many times when the whole family has to go shopping together, and everyone must “go along to get along.” Each of our teenage daughters enjoys going on an “in search of” trip with Mom or Dad. A large budget isn’t required. Some of our best find s have been at thrift stores and consignment shops.

4) Chores. Although none of my kids would admit that chores encourage them, I can vouch for this one. Completing a chore gives one a sense of accomplishment and builds confidence. You’re also teaching life skills. A 3 year old can empty the trash from her bedroom into a larger can in the kitchen and feel very pleased with herself. A 13 year old who empties the dishwasher won’t be as enthusiastic as your 3 year old, but he’s still confident. He may whine by the time he starts sorting the flatware, but he’s learning perseverance – a life skill that will serve him well no matter where he goes.

5) Projects. Don’t panic! A project doesn’t have to be complex, lofty or time-consuming. Giving an elementary school aged child a drawer to clean out and reorganize is a simple project. Another manageable project is reorganizing a shelf in the pantry or refrigerator. Your child, when finished, has done something that you can very specifically praise. In time, his expertise will grow and you’ll be able to say “Clean your room.” without a major meltdown (of either party.)

6) Rewards. Don’t ever call these bribes – that’s what you give to get something illegal done. Rewards are given for good behavior you want to encourage. When my daughter was 5, she was still a thumb-sucker. We had read somewhere that a new habit is made if it’s performed for 21 days. So I made a deal with her. If she could give up her delicious thumb for 21 days, we’d go ice skating. At that time, we’d never been, so the prospect seemed very exciting. Meghan was motivated and successful. After 3 weeks of no thumb sucking, we headed to the ice rink.

7)Parent (and grandparent)-Driven Activities. Some of my very favorite pictures of my husband as a toddler are those taken with his grandfather as his grandfather was working on repairing various electrical devices. We have a great shot of blonde, blue-eyed Calvin holding an empty TV screen as though he were starring in his own sitcom. Is it a coincidence that he’s an electrical engineer today? His grandfather included him in something he truly enjoyed – and he taught him a few things. Granted, it was probably more for photo opportunities for my husband at age 3, but he remembers working together with his grandfather as he was old enough to be helpful. In our own household, I included my children in bread making and pizza making. When their father came home, they were thrilled to show what they had created.

8- Child-Driven Activities. I love sharing activities I love with my children. Some activities like baking cookies were more popular than cleaning out a friend’s chicken house so we could get manure for our vegetable garden. However, at some point, it’s great to do things with your child that he really, really, really wants to try. My latest activity with my 18 year old son was surfing lessons. Yo, dude, tubular. We spent the morning at Waikiki beach and had a great time. I remember thinking that I would’ve never done this if it weren’t for my son. And my son was thrilled to have me there….because I paid for it.

Enjoy your children, whatever their age. It’s true they grow up way too fast. The journey’s one to be savored – not endured. Hey, I really like the way you read to educate yourself! You’re doing great!!


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