Difficult children respond to encouragement
My son Ian was the third of our four children, born in just under seven years. At age 2, he was difficult: stubborn, vocal and committed to get what he wanted. I didn’t like him much.At seminars today, I describe Impossible Ian, how encouragement transformed our relationship, and how you, too, can learn the art of encouragement.
Another term for encouragement is “positive psychology,” pioneered by authors Martin E.P. Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
In “Flourish” Seligman presents research that shows positive comments must outnumber negative remarks by 3-to-1 for a company to succeed. For a marriage to succeed, the ratio must be a mind-boggling 5-to-1.If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it!
I teach parents to say something nice that will get kids to learn good judgment, the cause-and-effect of behavior choices, and nurture the parent-child connection.
The first task is to give up praise. I know this is heresy because Americans give everyone a trophy for breathing so their precious self-esteem won’t suffer. This leads to what I call self-excess-teem, and young people with no work ethic because they want a standing ovation for showing up.
Here’s a comparison between praise and encouragement devised by parents in a workshop last week. You can see which one wins.
Encouragement might feel awkward at first. Practice self-encouragement — notice what you’re doing well — to get past the awkward stage. Remember it takes three weeks to establish a habit. This is a fun habit to learn that is useful for everyone in your life.
Similar to candy Similar to an apple
Given after success only Given anytime, including after failure
About how adults think/do/feel About how children think/do/feel
Creates external motivation Creates internal motivation
Hollow, insincere Authentic, descriptive
Promotes unrealistic self-beliefs Nurtures genuine self-esteem
Obedience is the goal Questions actions/beliefs/authority
High energy, excited Low-key, balanced
Celebrates accomplishment only Notices efforts made and progress
Highly verbal Can be silent
What’s your encouragement score today with your kids and your spouse? Have authentic positive statements outweighed the negative? You can do it And enjoy using encouragement. Start with yourself.Explore posts in the same categories: Encouragement, Family meetings, kind and firm, motivation, praise comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.