We know that encouragement is powerful, but sometimes it’s difficult to be consistent when it comes to encouraging our children, especially when we teach them. How does one be encouraging, yet still correct a child?
Change Your Approach
I homeschool our children, and this year my six year old is working on handwriting – specifically on writing letters and numbers. He is strong willed, and often argues with me when I try and teach him the correct way to write letters, before I even start showing him. He’ll insist he knows how to do it properly, and then goes on to write the letter incorrectly.
Sometimes, he’s not all that teachable, and it frustrates me. I have this urge to correct him, to take over and get him to just watch me, so that he can do it the ‘right way.’ I have done this a few times, and each time he loses interest and discontinues the lesson. So I have learnt that something is really wrong with my approach. Yes, he needs to learn to be teachable, but I also need to learn a few things about my approach! The point is not to correct, but to encourage and gently guide.
Show Them The Value Of ‘The Skilled Artist’ Help
I heard a great analogy regarding teaching children today: A man had some guests over one evening, and showed off his children’s art to them. The guests were amazed at the level of art the children had produced, and thought the kids must be gifted. The man smiled, and then explained that the children’s original level was very simple. But with the gentle guidance of a professional artist, holding their hands on the pencil/brush while they navigated tricky bits, like drawing eyes, the children’s pieces became spectacular works of art.
Comments like, “You’re doing a great job; this part is a bit tricky, how about we do it together” helped the child feel positive about his ability, and open to being helped, and the result was a work of art that the child could not have naturally done, yet achieved with the help of a gentle skilled helper.
There is something powerful in being teachable. The key is to encourage the child’s natural effort, and then point out that with some loving guidance with the tricky bits, he/she can reach a level of skill that they couldn’t achieve alone just yet, and that in receiving help they’d learn how to be able to do it alone next time. Improvement and growth sometimes comes by accepting help from someone who is further along than you, and is powerful for your personal growth.
The key is encouragement and gentleness.
How do you encourage your child? How do you encourage him/her to accept help, and be teachable?