8 Ways to Encourage Your Kids with Rahab to Riches

As Rhys is growing (he’s almost one year old, holy cow!), I trying to take what I have learned from Love and Logic and my teaching experience of preteens, to be the best, positive mom for Rhys. I’ve also done a ton of research reading baby books, forums, online articles, pediatric websites, etc. Many are saying to lessen the praise and be strict because you don’t want to continue more generations of entitled kids who turn into entitled adults. But, I don’t agree with that philosophy. I believe that we should encourage our children all the time. 
My friend, Miranda from Rahab to Riches, feels the same way. She has five children, so is a bit more experienced than me in parenting. She says, “Everyone needs to be encouraged from time to time. It is what makes us keep going when we want to give up. It makes hard things seem a little easier. It gives us hope when all seems dark. Children are no different. They need to feel encouraged, maybe even more so than adults.”
So, together, we have come up with 8 ways to encourage your kids, no matter what the age.
1) Get on their level
I don’t mean their height level, although that is always a good idea when talking to a child. I mean get on their interest level. Do activities that they like to do. Read the books that they want to read. Talk about what they want to talk about and listen. I mean really listen to what they have to say. I know as a busy mom of 5, I can listen to my children without really hearing them. I am surrounded by chatter all day, so it is easy for me to tune them out. But it is not okay.
When one of my children is talking to me, even if it is about Velociraptor’s eating habits for the gazillionth time, I need to stop what I am doing, look them in the eye, and give them the benefit of my undivided attention. Ask questions, don’t just give the boxed “That’s nice, honey” response. Children are very perceptive and they can definitely tell when you are giving them the brush off.
It can be discouraging to feel like you are misunderstood or that nobody really shares your interests. It may be hard to get as excited about something as they are, but that is why you need to be intentional about it. Make a choice to encourage your children in their interests. Having you share their enthusiasm will mean the world to them!

2) Say YES more than NO
If you are anything like me, No is a response that is quick to leave your lips. With 5 children asking and needing something from me countless times a day, it is often easier to say No. This week, I have started saying Yes more. Yes, you can go play in the backyard. Yes, you can go barefoot. Yes, we can go to the dollar scoop night at Baskin Robbins. Yes, I will print you out some pictures of dinosaurs and princesses to color.
I realize that as a parent we can’t say Yes to everything all the time. Some things are just downright dangerous or inappropriate, and we would be foolish to say Yes in those circumstances. Some days we are just so busy that anything not currently happening just isn’t going to get done. But what if we said Yes every chance we got? I bet our children would be happier and not so discouraged when we had to say No.

3) Make a BIG deal out of their accomplishments
Again, with multiple children it can be hard to “oooh” and “aaah” over every single colored page shoved into my face for approval. I can’t tell you how many butterflies, dinosaurs, and family drawings I see every week. I really can’t-I would lose count! Still, just because that picture looks exactly like the other 15 I’ve seen today doesn’t mean that my child spent any less time and attention on it.
Children learn by repetition. That is why they watch the same show over and over and over and over, and want the exact same bedtime story for 3 months in a row, and how they can memorize songs, scriptures, and poetry so easily. It makes sense that the same would go for drawings, or facts that they’ve learned that they want to tell you about all day. It really takes me no extra time to boost their spirits by exclaiming how great of a job they did and how much I love it. On the other hand, it could crush their spirit if I didn’t care.
The same goes for sports games and music recitals. Life gets busy and sometimes it can be easier to just drop the kids off, or spend the time on the phone instead of watching. But I know that when my kids look out at me on the sidelines and I am sitting there genuinely interested in what is going on, their face lights up and they are on top of the world. It may be “just another event” to you, but to them it is everything.

4) Encourage your children to step out of their comfort zones
My oldest daughter has extreme stage fright. The first time she had to give a camp testimony in front of the church, she couldn’t even get a word out before she ran off crying. So a few months later when another opportunity arose for her to say a few things in front of the church,
I told her she didn’t have toI practiced with her for days about what she would say. I signed her up for piano lessons so that she would have the opportunity to perform in front of people, and I encouraged her to join the teen choir.
She is still shy about speaking in front of people, and we joke that her testimonies are always the quickest and quietest, but at least she is doing them. We have seen a vast improvement. My husband, who is great at speaking in front of people, has worked with her and given her pointers. And I always make sure to let her know what a great job she did.
The same goes for my middle daughter. Her and my son are only 17 months apart, so they really have never done anything alone their whole lives. She wanted to play soccer because he was playing, but when she realized that she was going to be on a team without her brother, she wanted to quit before we even got to the first practice. We prayed and coaxed and conceded that if she absolutely hated it she wouldn’t have to go back. And you know what? She loved it! All she wants to do is play soccer, and just finished her second season.
When you encourage your children to step outside their comfort zones, it proves to them that they are capable. Just be sure to be there to dust them off when they fall and tell them how much you love them and how proud you are of them.
5) Give them responsibility
This works both with children and with students. If you show them that you trust them, they will be more willing to do more. With students, even though they are in Junior High, I give them responsibilities–cleaning, filing, running errands. When I leave a room, I put one of the trouble makers or strugglers in charge, and you should see the weight on their shoulders–they really step up to the plate. Now with Rhys, he’s not even one yet. But, I have him do some small things: he has to put his bath toys away (and we cheer him on as he does), throws away his own diapers (and we cheer him on as he does), and he even tries to help buckle himself in (and we thank him). We ask him to put things here, or bring things there, and he loves doing it. If you follow my Instagram, he even wanted to push the grocery cart earlier this week!
6) Thank them for what they do
No matter what age, children love being thanked. Every time Rhys gives us a kiss, or does something we ask him to, we thank him. When he sleeps well during a nap or at night, or finishes a bottle, we thank him. He smiles. Even at the tender age of 11.5 months, he’s starting to see the gratitude and smiles on our face and he likes it. In Jr. High, I thank students for answers, for completing homework, for doing something I asked them to. I tell them how proud I am of them. And guess what, I get a bigger effort the next day! Plus, when you show good manners, children will pick it up!
7) Make it a game
Whatever they need help with, play with them, make it a game. Kind of like Miranda’s idea of “Getting on their level”. There was a long time when Rhys had the ability to stand up by himself, until he noticed, then he got a scared face and sat back down. But, we made it a game trying to help him want to stand up. The same with him walking. We’d be silly as he stumbled/lunged toward each of us and finally, one day, it caught on. We also make our chores a game and are silly, and Rhys wants to be part of it. For older students, it works too. I had to teach my students how to label and diagram sentences. Yuck. Boring. But, then, I decided to do diagram racing for the last 5-10 minutes of each period. It was competitive. It was fun. And there were rewards. They loved learning new concepts in grammar to one-up their classmates in the diagram races.
8) Reward them
Now, that doesn’t mean go buy them a new game or a dinner. If you have behavior charts, or chore charts, piece by piece works. Have them work up toward a goal, then give them a tangible reward. With Rhys, recently, he’s been a poor eater. So, whenever he actually finishes a meal, we’d thank him, praise him, then we’d give him a strawberry, which is his favorite! Working up towards rewards work with older students too. I had a high standard of my students. I expected all of them to get an 80% or higher on all assessments. So, each time they did, I’d give them a star sticker. They collected these star stickers throughout the year and we had an amazing auction at the end of the year. They would boast to each other how many star stickers they had and would study hard to get them. My mom would encourage my siblings and I by rewarding us with a later bedtime. There are many different rewards you can give!

Edit: After I published this I realized one more big way you can encourage your children!
Bonus: Encourage them to follow their dreams!
My mom didn’t judge me for deciding to study Welsh rather than Spanish (I mean, not even the majority of people in Wales speak Welsh!). She encouraged me as I got my degree in teaching, and not something that would be more financially secure. She is allowing my baby sister to follow her dreams of baking, dancing, playing flute, whatever her teenage dreams happen to be at the time.  I think that is a big, important thing to encourage kids to follow their dreams. Not only does it validate their dreams and interests, but it allows them to believe they can achieve anything.

 Do you have any other ways that you encourage your children?

About Miranda from Rahab to Riches

Miranda is a work-at-home, homeschooling mom to 5 children ranging in age from teen to newborn. She likes finding the joy in her daily life, and is always looking for ways to improve as a wife, mother, and Christian. You can follow along with her family and their adventures over at Rahab to Riches, where you will find posts ranging from travel, to parenting, to healthy living. Once a teen mom and drug addict, Rahab to Riches stemmed from the desire to show people that your past does not define you, it’s possible to break the cycle, and you can start today to build a better future. With God all things are possible!

{Check out this lovely lady}

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • I love your was of encouragement as well. I definitely agree that a little thank you goes a long way! And making a game works very well in my house as well.

    I had fun coming up with these points. Thanks so much for the opportunity!

  • Thanks, I had fun too! I actually added a bonus one that I thought of this morning!

  • There are some solid gold items in this list. I love these. Thank you for sharing!

  • Thank, you, Ann!

  • This is a great list!!! Love it!

  • Justine Y

    I think these are all so great! Especially saying yes more than no, and thanking them for what they do! after all, I like feeling appreciated and validated, why wouldn't they? Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you, Justine. I feel the same way–why not treat kids how we'd like to be treated?

  • Aliza Hale Biorn

    These are definitely great things to remember. I love the bonus one the best!

  • I do not have children of my own yet but work with them a lot through my job. I love these suggestions, thank you for sharing!

  • What a great list!

  • Desiree @ Macke Monologues

    I'm really working on trying to say "yes" more than "no." So often the things Marcus asks to do could easily be done, and I'm really trying harder to say yes. I also love rewarding him and thanking him when he has done something well.
    Love the edit. There's nothing more encouraging than telling our littles to follow his/her dreams!

  • Thanks, Aliza! It's super important and I didn't want to leave it out

  • I'm trying already to be more positive with my words with Rhys rather than "no, no, no"

  • Melanie Redd

    These are some great ideas for encouraging our kids! Love the idea of a tag-team post too!

    My favorite idea is to encourage them to step out of their comfort zones! This one is hard, but it is always so amazing to see them succeed when they didn't even know they could!

    Thanks for sharing. I came over on the Sharing What Mamma Told Me Link.


  • What a great post! I'm all about encouragement (I call it sheltering). This goes along with my post this week. I was happy to share this with my facebook page. Each point is so important, but I think the "Step out of comfort zones" made me wish I thought about that when my girls were growing up. Visiting from Coffee and Conversation.

  • Thanks for visiting, Melanie! I had a lot of fun doing this tag-team post. I think the best way to encourage your children to step out of their comfort zones is to do the same yourself–be an example!

  • Haha! I love the idea of calling it sheltering. Thanks so much for the share! But, even if your kids are grown up, it's still not too late to encourage them using the same techniques (just geared for different ages)…I just made the decision to be a SAHM, and I'm a Type A workaholic, but my mom is encouraging me and letting me know I'm doing a good job spending all day with my 1 year old.

  • This is literally so intimidating to me since I'm quite a few years away from kiddos, but I can totally see where you're coming from for all of it. Will be bookmarking to refer to when that time comes…

    Coming Up Roses

  • What a lovely post and such great suggestions.

    Encouraging our children is so important and the ways in which you shared are bang on! Thanking them is an especially important one to me. Gratitude is a blessing to others… especially our children.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

  • Haha. Well, it could apply to students or clients or nieces/nephews or really any colleague!

  • Aubrey

    i am a firm believer in saying no when appropriate, but i also love the idea of saying yes more often. i wrote a post about it a while back because i believe in it so much. i also think it's so important to get on their level even physically on their level. it captures their attention much more than when they have to look 3+feet in the air.

  • I definitely see why you'd agree and actually already use these with your job!