Encouraging Your Encouragement
What is probably the most impor- tant act of child rearing? Encourage-ment. A child can only grow and develop a sense of belonging through encouragement. However, current child-rearing techniques present a series of discouraging events to the child that, over a lifetime during childhood, can devastate a child's self-esteem level. Children report that they are scolded, reminded about their failures, not trusted, spanked, hit, ridiculed, and ignored. Parents question a child fiercely about the one poor grade on the report card, when there are four or more good to better grades to discuss with the child, leaving plenty of room for encouragement rather then the typical, "What is this F all about?" Children likely do good things regularly. As parents, we just miss them.
Ever wonder why your child is not doing so well, maybe seems to be discouraged? Perhaps, he is reluctant to complete his school work, unwilling to clean his room, maybe grumpy or too quiet, or sleeping too much? More than likely, two things are happening. One, your child is tired and feels that he is losing strength. Second, even though things may be good for the most part with your family, your child, however, is unable to keep his or her head above water.
Suppose you had a car accident and your legs were hurt. In fact, your bones were smashed so badly in one leg, you required extensive rehabilitation on that leg. You may be able to walk again, but never the same. You most certainly would have a limp, maybe worse. More than likely, you would not be able to run, at least not too fast. That is exactly the way your child operates. If you are harsh with your child, this can cause your child to suffer greatly. It can actually cause a sense of depression within your child. This is known, clinically, as discouragement. Everyone knows this factor. WHAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW IS THIS: Even though one parent is harsh and the other parent attempts to soften the first parent's harshness by being supportive, it will not work. It is like that broken leg that will work later, but you will still limp. We cannot erase the effects of bad parenting, no more than we can make that limp go away with that bad leg. Often parents may try to cover up their partner's bad parenting with their own "good will" attempts, but it will not work. The damage is done. In fact, a child can become discouraged if there is not ENOUGH positive parenting. Think about that! Just the fact there is a low level of available supportive parenting can cause a child to feel depressed or discouraged.
As parents, we contribute greatly to the way our children view themselves and, thus to a great extent, how much effort they will put toward being successful or unhappy. We must strive to be more conscientious about how we approach our children. We must make ourselves more responsible to per- form at our best, for our children are hanging on our every word and every action, for their developing sense of self. No matter what the situation with our children, we can and should handle it positively. Any other form of parenting will work against what you want to accomplish and will hurt your child. Should anyone else hurt your child, you would be shocked and downright angry. But know this: You do the same thing with harsh parenting techniques. These harsh parenting strategies are less useful than doing nothing at all! Children need to feel that we are "okay" with them, that they are loved by us. Then and only then will they be encouraged. Then and only then will they be happy.