Studies have shown the impact that positivity and negativity can have on a person. While negativity creates stress, narrows your focus, and decreases your concentration, positivity enhances happiness, expands your outlook, and increases cognitive abilities. In other words, you are happier, more productive, and smarter when you have a positive outlook. But how do you gain that positive outlook?
Teaching Children to Use Encouragement
One way is through the words that are spoken to you. Words have incredible power. They can alter the direction of your day, change your attitude or mood, and stick with you for years after they’re said. Words spoken in anger can leave an indelible scar, while words spoken in love can heal a hurting heart.
If someone constantly berates and belittles you, there’s a good chance your thoughts will move in a negative direction. Conversely, if someone speaks encouragement to you, there’s a good chance your thoughts will move in a positive direction.
With this knowledge, you can choose to help the people in your life by encouraging them on a regular basis. You can also teach your children about the power of their words and how encouraging their family and friends can have an incredible impact on those people’s lives. How do you do this? The following ideas can get you started.
1. Teach Through Example
It’s one thing to tell your kids to “use kind words,” and quite another to do it yourself. In order for your children to fully grasp the power of positive words, you must demonstrate it to them.
This can start by being mindful of pointing out your children’s positive attributes. When you see them working hard, tell them you’re proud of their effort. When you see them being kind, make a point of saying how wonderful they are. It may not feel natural at first, but with practice it will become almost habitual.
You can also be mindful of the negative words you speak. There are times when children need correction, but the way they are corrected matters. It stands to reason that correcting your kids in an encouraging manner will be more likely to yield positive results than correcting them in a negative manner. No one is encouraged to change their behavior when they feel that they can do nothing right.
2. Make Gratitude a Habit
A child who has a positive outlook is more likely to encourage her peers. By taking time each day to discuss the things you’re thankful for, you will help your child develop a positive frame of mind. You can do this at the dinner table each night, while you’re driving in the car, at bedtime, or even by purchasing a gratitude journal to share.
3. Practice With Them
For many people, encouragement doesn’t come naturally. It’s easy to talk about the bad things while ignoring the good things. Because of this, it’s important to help your kids practice speaking encouraging words.
There are many ways to practice encouragement. You could have your child choose a person in your family each day, observe them in order to see something they are doing well at or are struggling with, and brainstorm things to say that would help that person feel encouraged.
For example, if their sibling is learning how to tie their shoes, they could say, “You are working really hard at that! I know you’ll get it soon!” or “You’re getting better at that with every try!”
This also offers them the opportunity to see the different reactions they’ll receive to their encouragement. Just as it’s not always easy to give encouragement, it’s also not always easy to receive encouragement. Sometimes people will reject the encouragement. Other times they’ll be openly thankful for it. Either way, it’s good for your child to see these differing reactions so they won’t get discouraged by them.
4. Challenge Them
When your child has gotten the hang of being encouraging, challenge them to look for ways to use this new skill on their friends. Whether it’s telling a friend on a play date that they’re good at sharing or telling a friend at school that they know they’ll grasp a difficult concept if they keep working at it, getting real life practice will help your child make encouragement a part of their every day life.
Teaching your children to be an encouragers will have long lasting positive effects, not only on the people your children interact with, but also on your children themselves. By learning how to use encouragement at an early age, they will develop a skill that will cause positive ripple effects through many years.