Our kids are sure growing up in a different world than we did. Just the introduction of the Internet changed the way our world works. They are constantly bombarded with messages that crush their spirits, their self esteem, and their encouragement.
We, as parents, need to be speaking truth into our kids and encouraging their hearts as much as we can. Here are five ways you can encourage your child’s heart!
Speak Words of Affirmation to Them
Not long ago I started doing something that has really revolutionized my relationship with my kids. Every day when we get into our car for the first time (out of many), I speak words of affirmation to each one of them. I tell them each something I love or appreciate about them…something unique and personal. Maybe it’s that I’ve noticed they tried extra hard the day before to hold their tongue. Maybe it’s that I noticed they did something kind for a sibling. Maybe I just love their sense of humor and want to tell them.
It really helps to change the direction of our morning, especially when we’re all cranky. I can get into the car, irritated with my kids, and they can yell, “Mom! Words of affirmation!” and I can mutter to myself for a moment about how I’m really not in the mood to give my kids praise, but I do, and I never regret it. Never. What a pleasure to see my kids faces (sometimes sour faces) turn to smiles and the whole mood of our car shift!
Do “Tell Me Something Good” at Meal Time
Every night at dinner, we do something called “tell me something good.” We go around the table, and each of us shares our favorite thing from the day. This is another great way to change the perspective of the negative nellies in your family. =) Even for myself, there are times when I really can’t think of anything exciting that happened in my day that I would consider my “favorite.” But the point of this exercise is to actively try to find things that are good in our days.
So often, we fly through life, not stopping to appreciate even the little things. Sometimes, my favorite thing may just be “I got to see the sun rise this morning,” or “I heard my favorite song on Pandora.” It’s a great way to remember that there is something good in every day, no matter how mundane or “normal” it may be.
Don’t “Fix” Everything
I think as parents, we often feel like we need to fix our kids’ problems. At least I know I do. Especially if they’re whining. Here, let me take care of that for you…just make the whining stop…please…
One thing I’ve learned along the way, especially because being sympathetic and nurturing is not how I naturally am, is that sometimes they just need a pat on the back, a kiss on the forehead and a “I’m sorry, honey.” That’s it.
This is hard for me.
If you’ve ever had a toddler, you know that often when they fall down, they come running to you. All they need from you is a little hug, pat on the back and then they run off to go play again. They don’t need us to teach them a life lesson in that moment. It doesn’t really change much as they get older. Yes, there are times for life lessons, but a lot of times, we don’t need to solve their problems for them. As a matter of fact, that often stunts their growth. They just need to know we’re there to be their sounding board, and that we’ve got their back when needed.
Go Where They Wanna Go
We’ve been at the same church for almost 10 years. They recently opened another campus, but we didn’t intend on going to the new campus. We decided to go to their grand-opening weekend for support and just to check it out, and our kids fell in love with it. That day they all decided that’s where they wanted to go to church.
A part of me wanted to say, “No way! The other campus has been our home for 10 years! I don’t wanna leave!” But I didn’t. Because honestly, it’s more important to Superman and I that our kids love church than it is that we go where we want. Who knows, they may ultimately decide to go back to our original church campus. But I want them to know that their relationship with God is so important to us, that we will ultimately go where their hearts are leading.
Give Them Blessings
Every Monday night, Superman does “blessings” with our kids before they go to bed. He says something like Numbers 6:24-26:
“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’
But then he adds in a personal touch. He speaks a blessing over their future, maybe about their future spouse or kids or job or talents. It is something our kids look forward to every Monday, and as they all crawl into bed, they yell, “Dad! Blessings!!”
It warms my heart that they will grow up thinking back on how much it meant that their dad took a few moments just once a week to speak life and truth into them. And I bet they will want to do the same for their kids.