Are you an Encourager or a Discourager?

Many years ago our family had the rare opportunity to take a memorable trip to Paris, France. I felt it was my duty to prepare our kids for the adventure by telling them all about the monuments and sights we would see. Perhaps I went a little overboard on the Eiffel Tower issue because everywhere we went in Paris (from the moment our plane touched down to the time we left), they were looking for the Eiffel Tower. And they found it every time! Why? Because they were looking for it!

What are the Eiffel Towers in your kids’ lives? In other words, what are those good qualities that you want to nurture and encourage in them? Just like our Paris adventure, we need to be on the lookout for those positive qualities and seize the opportunity to encourage their hearts.

The word encourage means “to give strength.” The root cour comes from the Latin word meaning “heart.” We strengthen our kids’ hearts through the encouraging messages we offer. Most of us have not had the benefit of a Parenting 101 class to teach us how to encourage our kids. Of course, some people lived in a positive home environment where they saw their parents model encouragement. Most people, however, didn’t have that kind of example in their growing-up years. Whatever our past experience, we can all learn and develop creative ways to bring a new and fresh spirit into our home with our uplifting words.

I’m not saying we should constantly flatter our kids. There is nothing more repulsive than a narcissistic kid with an over-inflated ego. Certainly there’s a healthy balance to strike when it comes to building up our kids with good words. Here’s a few tips toward being a wise encourager.

  • Be sincere. Our kids recognize unfounded praise immediately, and our empty words can cause us to lose credibility with them. Offer only honest and realistic words of encouragement based on truth. We can always find truthful and good things to say about our children to our children if we are looking for those opportunities.
  • Be direct. We should verbalize exactly what we appreciate about our kids and be specific. Don’t stop with “Great job!” Go on to say, “Great job at your recital or in your game or helping out at home today. And add, “I was impressed by the way you persevered/concentrated/_____________.”
  • Be creative. Our praise and words of encouragement don’t need to be simply verbal. Consider writing a note or sending a text or an e-mail. One mom I know uses dry-erase markers to write notes on the kids’ bathroom mirror. A note in their lunch or under their pillow can be just the pick-me-up they need to get them through the day.

Although we wish we were naturally positive people overflowing with uplifting words, the truth is that the cares of motherhood and the details of life sometimes distract us from our nobler goals. The Bible reminds us that the tongue has the power to bring life or death. Like a daily vitamin are you offering life-giving words to your kids each day? I hope that you can take this little boost from today’s blog and use it to inspire you and spur you on to offer delicious morsels of encouragement to your kids’ hungry hearts.