May 2013 – Encouragement
Expressing approval and support
“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.” ~ Unknown
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” ~ Epictetus
“Encourage your kids because you have no idea what they are truly capable of.” ~ Unknown
“Encourage yourself by encouraging others. It’s tough to encourage others without lifting your own spirits up.” ~ Kevin Ngo
Encouragement is different from Praise
According to Carol Dweck, Ph.D. a professor at Columbia University, praise is not good for children; she defines praise as congratulating the person rather than the effort or action. Dweck found that praise can hamper risk taking. Children who were praised for being smart when they accomplished a task chose easier tasks in the future. They didn’t want to risk making mistakes. On the other hand, children who were “encouraged” for their efforts were willing to choose more challenging tasks when given a choice. Dreikurs says, “Encourage the deed [or effort], not the doer.” In other words, instead of, “You got an A, I’m so proud of you,” try, “You worked hard. You deserve it.”
Encouragement is not Cheering, Clapping, and Commenting onEverything a Child Does
When adults speak to youth, sometimes it is called “lecturing,” and sometimes it is an attempt to be encouraging. A trend today is for parents to think they have to make a comment (in the name of encouragement) on everything a child does, such as clapping and cheering many times a day. Such circumstances can foster the subtle beginnings of the need to please everyone and/or the fear that they might not. All of these feelings and decisions are formed at a subconscious level. Cheering, clapping, and commenting on everything a child does could make your child’s accomplishments more about you than about him or her. This overgenerous praise could hinder your child in maintaining his or her sense of personal satisfaction and feelings of capability.
Encouragement is helping your children to develop courage—courage to grow and develop into the people they want to be—to feel capable, to be resilient, to enjoy life, to be happy, contributing members of society, and, as Dreikurs said, “To have the courage to be imperfect,” to feel free to make mistakes and to learn from them.
Encouragement is not rescuing, fixing, over-protecting
What would happen if the mother bird felt guilty about pushing her baby bird out of the nest so it will learn to fly? The baby bird would not survive. How well do our children survive when they don’t develop their disappointment muscles, their resiliency muscles, their delayed gratification muscles, and their courage to be imperfect muscles? When parents rescue, fix, and overprotect, they lessen their children’s ability to learn that they can survive disappointment, and they can survive the ups and downs of life and learn many life skills in the process.
How to Encourage
The positive discipline tools outlined below are designed to be encouraging to children:
1. Family Meetings: encourage children to give and receive compliments and learn to brainstorm for solutions to problems.
2. Curiosity Questions: invite children to explore how to think instead of what to think.
3. Letting go so children have opportunities to learn and grow—mistakes and all.
4. Having Faith in children so they can develop faith in themselves.
5. Spending Special Time to make sure the message of love gets through.
There are many more examples—all designed to be empowering instead of enabling.
Sometimes, the most encouraging thing a parent can do is to sit close by and quietly while sending out energetic support. Use the following questions to make sure you provide an encouraging environment:
1. Are you promoting SELF-evaluation or dependence on the evaluation of others?
2. Are you inviting your child to think or telling him or her what to think?
3. Are you allowing your child to figure things out for herself or engaging her in problem solving), or are you rescuing and fixing things for her?
4. Are you considering what your child might be thinking, feeling and deciding in response to what you do or say, or do you avoid getting into your child’s world?
5. Are you helping your child feel capable or dependent?
Encouragement is positive feedback that focuses primarily on effort or improvement rather than outcomes. Encouragement is recognizing, accepting, and conveying faith in a child for the mere fact that he or she exists. With encouragement, a child feels worthwhile and appreciated regardless of the results he or she achieves.
I’m Fast by Kate and Jim McMullan
The Remarkable Farkle McBride by John Lithgow
Iggy Peck: Architect by Andrea Beatty
The Paper bag Princess by Robert Munsch
If You Decide to go to the Moon by Faith McNulty
The Great Cake Mystery by Alexander McCall Smith
Encouragement in the Workplace:
Positive reinforcement is the process of recognizing and rewarding a desired behavior in an effort to encourage its continuance. Positive reinforcement can consist of praise, offering incentives to continue the behavior or showing appreciation for effort. In the workplace, supervisors can use positive reinforcement for purposes such as increasing productivity and improving the morale of an individual or department. This can be done by: providing a sense of worth, encouraging good behavior, improving workplace morale, and helping employees to fit in. Brought to you by: http://goo.gl/6yD3k