This past Mother’s Day, my pastor brought his mom on stage and asked her to share tidbits of wisdom she’d passed to him throughout the years. The best was when he said his mother would tell him: “Everyone loves you, and if they don’t, they’re stupid.” The audience howled, as you can imagine, but as she spoke that morning, what became clear was that this mama knew how to encourage her son.
“Encourage means to give someone courage,” my pastor said. As a mom to a 6-and-a-half-year-old and 2-year-old, there’s nothing I’d like more than to instill that sense of encouragement in my girls. I may not always be around when discouragement strikes, so here are some practices we’re putting into play. Add your own in the comments!
Five Simple Ways To Encourage Your Kids
1. Effort is Everything
Be their biggest cheerleader, but choose the cheer carefully. When kids are praised for their ability, they fail to focus on their effort. Celebrate the effort and they’ll continue to push themselves past their ability.
2. Together as a Team
My daughter suggested we come up with an actual cheer to help us feel encouraged before a challenging task. I reminded her that we often say “Go Team Davis!” (mostly tongue-in-cheek) whenever we’ve accomplished something. It helps us remember we’re not in this alone. There’s strength and comfort in togetherness.
3. Attitude Determines Altitude
Actions speak louder than words. The clichés are endless, but the fact isyou can talk about having courage and a good attitude, but if yours stinks, it’ll show up–most likely in your kids. Have courage for yourself. Acknowledge bad days and tough times (for yourself and your kids), and use them as teaching opportunities.
4. Know the Source
Our courage comes from God. His ways are not our ways. We don’t have to rely on our own strength. Help your child commit Joshua 1:9 to memory: “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (NLT). Some others that will provide encouragement are: Zephaniah 3:17, Jeremiah 29:11 and Proverbs 3:5-6.
5. Love, Love, Love
1 Peter 4:8 says love covers over a multitude of sins. The Message paraphrase says, “Love makes up for practically anything.” How true that is! When I asked my daughter what would help her feel encouraged or give her courage after a bad day, she said hugs and kisses.
It takes such little effort on our part to show our kids love and erase discouragement. The more we do it, the less we’ll need to worry about anything.
Every day as I drop off my child at school we have a routine. I say, “Madilyn, I hope you have a won-der-ful day” (wonderful is always super dramatic). She responds with, “I will.”
Encouragement and affirmation. A hug and a kiss. Give them freely and watch your little ones blossom.
Cara Davis is a content consultant and co-founder of the soon-to-launch church’d.com. The former editorial director for Relevant Media Group, her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post and CNN, and she’s been quoted in USA Today and The New York Times. She lives with her husband and two girls in East Nashville where she has co-founded a nonprofit called Community PTO to support the success of local community schools.