Compliment the effort, not the outcome
Verbal encouragement can keep your children motivated and help them recognize their accomplishments. But when you’re dishing out praise, focus on the effort your kids put into their successes, rather than the end result. That way, your kids can keep their self-esteem strong, even when they don’t hit the mark, says Debra Kissen, PhD, MHSA, clinical director of Light on Anxiety Treatment Center. “We have a lot more control over working hard and continuing to try and persevere than if we win or not,” she says. “If we only get compliments when we win, which is often out of our control, it’s easy to lose momentum.” Instead of just congratulating your kids on an A+, compliment the hard work they put into preparing, and encourage them to use those same study skills in the future. Don’t miss these homework-help secrets your child’s teacher wishes you knew.
Remember they’re learning
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Children are born knowing nothing, and they need to collect clues to figure out how the world works. There’s a lot of trial and error in that process, so be patient with your kids while they learn tasks and safety rules that seem like common sense, like tying their shoes or avoiding hot ovens, says Maureen Healy, author of Growing Happy Kids and owner of a mentoring program for highly sensitive children. “People don’t get the message that you’re loved regardless, and the answer’s no. They just say no,” she says. “You’re not necessarily getting the distinction between ‘you’re a beautiful human being’ and hearing a lot of what you’re not doing correctly.” Remind your children you adore them so they don’t lose self-esteem while you gently explain why their actions are wrong or unsafe. Start with these ways to say “I love you” without words.