Your child comes home and you can immediately sense that something is wrong. He or she missed an important shot in a basketball game, performed poorly on a test, or struggled to learn a new song in band practice. As a result, he or she may be reluctant to talk about what’s happened. As a parent, you can easily picture this scene, because you’ve lived it. If you’re a parent who hasn’t experienced it first-hand yet, you will.
When something like this occurs, it’s important to pick your child up when he or she gets down. Although this seems like an easy thing to do, encouraging your child can actually be a bit more complicated than it seems. How honest should you be? Should you ignore talking about the event entirely? Would it be OK to help your child with the problem or should you let him or her figure it out alone?
These are difficult questions to answer, especially when you’re dealing with a crestfallen child. If you have had trouble answering these questions in the past or think you might have them in the future, consider these tips:
- Focus on the process. Instead of immediately dealing with the end result, focus on what brought them there. For example, if your child had a poor basketball game, don’t talk about how he or she missed the game winning shot right away. Rather, talk about how continuing to work on his or her shooting in practice in the next few weeks may help lead to a different result.
- Take time to teach. Maybe you didn’t realize your child was doing poorly in math until he or she arrived home with the low grade. Ask your child what’s been causing the trouble and then show how you approach finding a solution to that problem. Maybe your approach is different from how his or her teacher has been explaining it, and the new way of solving the problem will lead to a breakthrough.
- Ask for insight from your child. Before jumping to any conclusions, make sure to get your child’s thoughts. Although he or she might only offer a small part, it can help you put together the larger story. Maybe your child is struggling to play the trumpet because it’s difficult to see the musical notes on the sheet. After hearing this, you might realize that the poor performance isn’t due to lack of practice, your child just needs glasses.
Hopefully, these tips will provide you with a good foundation for reassuring your child when he or she has struggled in an area of his or her life. As every child and situation are unique, feel free to use certain tips more than other suggestions or subtract some and add new ideas that work better for you. Although encouraging your child can be a delicate process at first, it should get easier with time.