Mom Tip Monday: Encouragement Part 1

by Heligirl on January 17, 2011

in Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles

I’ve talked in the past about the pitfalls of praise. It can be empty and hollow, further degrading children’s self esteem by building in them a need to receive praise (external justification) in order to feel belonging or acceptance.

Instead of praise, we can encourage our kids, helping them find their way and develop an internal sense of accomplishment that will build their self esteem and capabilities.

How we encourage our children depends on their age. For the next three Mom Tip Mondays, I’m going to break out some encouragement tips based on age. This week I’ll cover children from birth to 6. Next week we’ll talk about how to encourage kids between the ages of 6 and 12. And the final week we’ll explore ways to work with adolescents.

Encouraging Kids Birth to 6

For the birth to 6 group, it’s important to consider the psychological development of these kids when considering how to encourage them. The Saskatoon Adlerian Society put together a list of six general tasks kids this age are attempting to perform during this stage. Here is a look:

Task 1: Trust

  • From birth to about 12 months, kids are learning there are people in their lives they can trust.

Task 2: Separateness

  • From about 18 months to 3 years, kids are learning that they’re a separate person from those around them

Task 3: Achievement and Recognition

  • Between 3 and 6 years kids learn how to handle challenges that come to them.

Task 4: Initiative

  • Between 2 and 6 years, kids learn to initiate things themselves.

Task 5: Building a Gender Identity

  • Between 3 to 5 years kids begin to be aware of their gender and begins spending more time with the parent of the opposite gender. At about age 6, they solidify their gender identity by preferring to play with kids of the same gender.
  • Kids need to accept and consider themselves as a separate individual before they can accept and consider the feelings of others. This can typically happen between 5 ½ and six years of age.

Ways to provide that encouragement:

  • Assure a baby’s needs are met consistently and lovingly
  • Set up the child’s physical environment to eliminate as many frustrations as possible (e.g., child proofing your home)
  • Give the child notice when a transition is going to take place, such as the end of a playdate, time for bed, etc.
  • Use games to put away toys, to dress and other tasks.
  • Give positive suggestions or simple choices, rather than commands.
  • Don’t force potty training. Be aware of physical readiness.
  • If major changes in the child’s life occur, prepare them by describing what will happen. If possible, role play new situations. Be sensitive to and accept the child’s feelings with reflective listening.
  • Give the child lots of support in trying to be independent because she/he will be somewhat ambivalent about it.
  • Do not insist on sharing toy and provide duplicate toys when possible.
  • Provide experiences where the child can be successful; (e.g., have clothes that are easy to put on)
  • Give a generous amount of positive feedback when your child takes initiative, even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly.
  • Take time for training for everyday things your child needs to do.
  • Provide a role model of an adult of the opposite sex if you’re a single parent.
  • Avoid judging our child for her/his self-centeredness. Accept the self-centerdness as a stage of development.
  • Be empathetic, but protect your own rights. For instance, listen to your child’s wish to go to the pool, but don’t drop whatever you are doing to accommodate the wish if it isn’t your desire.
  • Accept the 5 to 6 year olds’ preferences for playmates of the same gender as a stage of development. Don’t force girls and boys to play together.
  • Remember, conscience only begins to form around age 6. Use logical consequences. Do not shame.


Kate Walton January 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Very helpful, Jen! Thanks so much!

Making It Work Mom January 18, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I think I might steal this to use to educate some of the young teaches at the preschools where I work.


Twitter: Heligirl
January 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Steal away. Check back next Monday for more tips. 🙂

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