When I’m working with children, one of the key ways to help them enjoy activities and improve their skills is through encouragement. I think it plays a huge part in why they’re so willing to cooperate and continue to join in activities. If a child is struggling with an activity they will often become frustrated, and willing to give up because they’re aware that they might not be as skilful as other children in the group. By encouraging children you can actually help to teach and explain them whilst giving them the confidence to flourish.

Reduce Criticism

Criticism and disagreements are best avoided for trivial mistakes. Criticism can produce a very negative reaction from children and lead to them not enjoying activities that they could flourish in. Children often react by withdrawing into themselves, resisting or shouting back at you. Of course, sometimes criticism is necessary, but these are best reserved for important mistakes such as ones that concern a child’s safety. Also, by reducing the instances that you tell a child off or criticise them, this increases the impact when you do need to seriously advise them to change their behaviour. By encouraging children you’ll promote self-confidence and positivity that will spread across their everyday life and increase the strength of the relationship with the child.

Don’t show stress

This is one of the most challenging aspects for parents. You’ve had a hard day at work and you’re stressed, only to come home and your child wants attention. It’s really tough but you should try not to snap or let your annoyance show when your child does something wrong. Try to always be positive by suggesting an alternative approach that’s more effective, and then praising them when they complete it the ‘correct’ way. This encouragement will teach them a new method that they will enjoy performing in the future due to the positive relationship felt when accomplishing it.

Apply Across a Range of Activities

Young children are learning all the time, including everyday tasks that you may have forgotten that you had to learn once! Getting dressed, brushing teeth, toileting might seem simple tasks but children will need some guidance, and encouragement. Games are a great time for children to show some creative freedom as there’s often not a “right” or “wrong” way to play. When they’re older you shouldn’t stop encouraging, you should continue to help them do simple household chores and homework and encourage them. Obviously, if they don’t respond to encouragement you can try alternative approached but encouragement, praise and teaching should be the first method of help.

Set them up to Succeed

A child needs to understand that you want them to succeed and not to fail. Don’t approach a problem with an “I’m going to prove you wrong” mentality. Let them know you’re helping them and they’ll start showing excitement at your help as they’ll understand it’s making them more successful. Children want to improve and want approval so don’t be afraid to give it to them. Even if they complete a task that might seem trivial to an adult, it could be a big accomplishment for a young child.

Key Steps to Teaching Through Encouragement

In summary, here are some of the key things to do to help teach your child by encouraging them.

  • Acknowledge the skill or behaviour that needs to be improved
  • Decide on the preferred step
  • Don’t criticize the current step
  • Describe the alternative step
  • Encourage the child as they start learning the new method
  • Patiently assist at any problems
  • Praise or reward the successful improvement

I hope you found this guide useful! I really believe that encouraging children is a great way to teach them and improve your relationship with them. It can be tough if you’ve had a stressful day but you’ll reap the rewards!

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