This blog is the last in our five-part series about how to teach children to be responsible. The Five Essential E's form the foundation of effective parenting and include Example, Experience, Empathy, Expectations, and Encouragement. This week, we'll discuss Encouragement.
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Encouragement includes an overall “You can do it!” attitude. It's how we treat and act towards our children. Are we full of smiles and high-fives or frowns and put-downs? Are we more focused on what our kids do right? Or what they do wrong?
Encouragement is also how we talk to our kids when they do something we like. It's a specific way of using positive words. Normally, we think encouragement means saying things like, “I am so proud of you!” or "Good job!" but in reality, this is praise.
Parents can easily get caught in the praise trap because it makes us feel good when our kids feel good. And praise does make our kids feel good in the moment, especially when kids are little. But we have to be careful with praise. Excessive praise causes problems including raising a praise junkie! We want children to do good things and feel good about themselves because it pleases them rather than always looking for outside approval from others.
Parents also like to use praise as a way to motivate our kids to do what we want them to do. It's kind of like giving them a reward. Again, that's fine when kids are little and not over-used. But praise can easily turn into a bribe just like rewards can. When children only do the right thing for the praise or the treat or the "reward", then it becomes a bribe and this can become dangerous especially where medical care is concerned. Again, we want to raise children who make good choices because it's the best thing for them, not for a reward, bribe or praise.
So, instead of using praise, we can ask questions to help our children self-evaluate. For example, instead of saying “I am proud of you for remembering to take your medication,” we can say, “Wow! How do you manage to always remember to take your medicine on time?” This causes children to think, encourages them to be proud of themselves, and naturally motivates them to continue to take good care of themselves. Our book, "Parenting Children with Health Issues" by Cline and Greene discusses this in depth and gives many more examples.
So there you have it: The Five Essential E's! The keys to raising confident, respectful, responsible children who make good decisions and feel good about themselves from the inside out rather than the outside in.
Watch a video of Dr. Cline and Lisa Greene discussing Encouragement.
Foster W. Cline, MD is a child psychiatrist and co-founder of Love and Logic®. Lisa C. Greene is a parent educator and mom of two children with cystic fibrosis. Together they have written the award-winning book “Parenting Children with Health Issues." Visit www.ParentingChildrenWithHealthIssues.com.
© Copyright by Foster Cline, MD and Lisa Greene. All rights reserved.