Motivate your kids: Even when they “miss the mark”

Motivation: How Praise for “Trying” Can Motivate Kids
by Jean Tracy MSW
NW Writer

Motivation for trying can help kids when we use the right words. Sometimes our children try but don’t succeed. Find out how this mother would praise her kids anyway.

This past weekend I heard a young girl (teenager) sing a solo in front of a lot of people, many of whom she didn’t know well. She probably could have sung better – she was very nervous – but the fact that she did it at all was enough for praise. As she keeps doing it she’ll be more comfortable and sound better. (She was the first one on the program, too – that should give her another prize!)  Mary L

If you were the girl’s parents what would you tell her?

Some kids are extroverts and have no trouble being on stage. Many are not. I remember my grand-daughter, Dani. She’s a terrific artist, a fantastic athlete, and a kind 11-year-old. Yet speaking up in class has been  difficult for her. She struggles with shyness. We all encourage her by asking, “What’s something difficult you tried and are proud of?” She always comes up with something.

Last spring Dani was in the school play. The auditorium was crowded with parents and students. Most of the kids were nervous. I had trouble hearing their lines until it came to Dani. Her words were loud and clear. Our family looked at one another with delight. Afterward we celebrated with praise and ice cream.

Kids need compliments over criticism.

When They Try and Don’t Succeed, We Can Always Tell Them:

1.At least you tried. I’m so proud of you.
2.I liked how you kept encouraging your team when they were discouraged.
3.This is the best sounding sentence in your report so far. What can you do to make your other sentences just as good?
4.Keep on practicing because your dancing is getting better and better.
5.Bravo! You got most of your multiplication tables correct. Let’s see what you can do to improve even more.

There are endless encouraging things we can say to motivate our kids. Let’s make sure what we say is both kind and honest. We’ll be building character too.

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