Raising children is both a challenging and rewarding responsibility. You hold the power to deeply impact another human being’s self-esteem, character, and perspective on life. Committing to being an encouraging voice for your child is an invaluable step in your parenthood journey. Below are 3 tips to help get the job done:
Remind Your Children That It’s Ok to Fail
As parents, we often emphasize the importance of success, high achievement, and ‘doing your best’. But what happens when your children’s best isn’t enough? What should we do when their best efforts still result in failure? In those moments, we are afforded the perfect opportunity to comfort our kids and guide them through the process of: acknowledging their feelings, accepting what happened, and then, taking actionable steps to improve. Adults try and fail all the time, but we are great at hiding our disappointments. So much so, that our kids rarely notice how often we make mistakes. When your child is in the midst of defeat, share stories about your failures and how you used them to bounce back stronger. Lastly, always encourage your children to strive for success, but ensure that they also know there will be occasions where things don’t go according to plan, and that’s ok. Failure is simply an opportunity for growth in our next steps.
Focus on Praise More Than Criticism
A large part of parenting is molding your children into productive, honorable, members of society. Many of us think the best way to do so is by instructing our children on what not to do. While this is one way to achieve the end goal, it’s not always the most encouraging technique. To alter your approach, focus on the positive more than the negative. Conversations about what not to do can often be reframed by keeping a positive spin in mind. Start by praising your kids: address what they did well, then, expand the conversation by offering ideas on additional steps they can take to produce even better results. Also, remember that not every moment is a moment to reinforce the notion of improvement. Make sure to regularly mix in conversations that are strictly focused on praise. Your approval is one of the greatest sources of pride and confidence your child owns; they look up to you, they respect you, and they want to know that their efforts and achievements are valid in your eyes.
Offer Unconditional Support
There will come a point in every parent-child relationship where our desired outcomes for our children will not come to fruition. We envision our children attending a certain college, playing a certain sport, or pursuing a certain career path…and they may not. It’s ok to feel disappointment; we are human and have valid reasons for wanting our kids to take the paths we imagined. However, they are human too – with their own thoughts, their own personalities, and their own passions. As much as we see them as carbon copies of ourselves, their desires are their own. We have to remember to prove to our children that our support is unconditional – just as unconditional as our love is. Our kids should not feel bound to fulfilling our dreams in order to keep our support, but instead should feel encouraged to be true to themselves. We’ve raised them right, so we must trust the process and allow our kids to become their most genuine version of themselves, with our support as their comfort. Who knows? While their paths may stray a bit from our parental ideals, those decisions may still end with the same fruitful results we envisioned.
How you choose to respond to your children in moments of adversity will heavily determine which coping skills they revisit later in life. With parental encouragement, your children will mature to be well-adjusted adults, who openly share optimism and positivity with others. Even if your children are adult-aged, it’s never too late to start parenting with encouragement in mind.