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Words that encourage

February 22, 2011

What the Experts Say…

“A child is encouraged most when he or she knows that difficulties are understood and appreciated … The best help that can be offered to them is tolerant waiting and a light comment about the difficulty of the task … If the child succeeds, there is the satisfaction of knowing that a difficult chore was conquered. If the child fails, there is consolation that his parents know the task was hard.” (Haim Ginott, Child Psychologist, in his book, Between Parent and Child)

In Other Words…

Sometimes we rush in to reassure a child: “You can do it! It’s not that hard.” But, if the child is having difficulty, our words suggest that maybe they’re just too dumb. After all, it feels hard to the child. In contrast we can simply observe, “That’s a challenging task. I’m pleased that you keep working at it.”

How This Applies to You…

One of the most helpful things you can do for your children is to appreciate their effort. “I appreciate the way you stick with that task.” “I’m impressed with the way you try different methods to solve the problem.” There are certainly times when you will want to offer specific help in a task, yet often just words acknowledging their effort will energize them. When your children realize that you appreciate their efforts in the face of challenges, they will be more likely to try—and master—difficult tasks in the future.

To Find Out More…

For an excellent program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at and if your children are younger than six, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more information on parenting, we recommend Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim Ginott.

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