This morning, I did a google search on “why encourage your kids” and the top results were, frankly, discouraging. Each result each focused on how to encourage your kids into specific actions or activities. What about encouraging them simply as a person?
‘Ways to encourage your kids to love learning.’ ‘How to encourage your kids to have healthy hygiene.’ ‘Why you should encourage your kids to join a sports team.’ These are all good things, and parents often do find themselves needing to motivate their kids to do things that we, as adults, know are good and important.
But as a family therapist, I can tell you there is great value in simply encouraging your kids, with no end goal beyond loving them well.
Not encouraging them to do something or to be something, but simply encouraging them as people made in the image of God. We all need unconditional positive regard in life – people who love us simply because we exist.
You probably feel this way about your kids, so here are six simple ways to show them this encouragement today:
- Give them a hug. Do you already do this a lot? Aim for a bigger, longer, or more intentional hug than yesterday.
- Ask them questions about themselves and have a conversation without jumping to problem solving or action steps. Enjoy their company.
- Make eye contact and smile with them while they are telling you a story. If they don’t tell you many stories, ask for one.
- Ask follow-up questions when they tell you a story or engage in conversation with you. Show them that their thoughts, opinions, and feelings matter.
- Compliment them on aspects of their character or values, rather than what they do or accomplish. “You are a wonderful person.” “I’m so glad that God made me your mom.”
- Tell them they are loved. If you have multiple kids, make sure they each get some individualized attention and love from you today. This encourages them as a unique individual worthy of love.