Preteen Support – the Encouragement Approach

A very important part of preteen support is the Encouragement Approach. This helps preteens to recognize their efforts and improvements through such communication as:

“It looks like you’ve worked really hard on that.”
“It looks like you’ve spent much time thinking this through.”
“I see that you’re moving along.”
“Look at your progress!”  (Tell how, be specific)
“You’re improving in…” (be specific)
“You may feel you’ve not reached your goal, but see how far you’ve made it!”

See also this video about how your teenager’s brain functions:

Note of caution…These and the other encouraging communications we have been learning can be discouraging to children when we use them with an “I told you so” or arrogant attitude.  Avoid giving with one hand and taking away with the other.  In other words, avoid qualifying or moralizing comments.

For example, avoid such communications as:

“It looks like you really worked hard on that – so why not do that all the time?” or
“It’s about time” or
“See what you can do when you try?”

Remember, the main reasons for using the Encouragement Approach is to show faith in our children so that they can come to believe in themselves, accepting them as they are, pointing out the positive aspects of their behavior recognizing effort and improvement, and showing our appreciation for their contributions, which is very important in phases like when they’re transitioning to middle school.

Understanding and applying the Encouragement Approach is especially important if you’re a person who has the habit of punishing or discouraging children. This is not what supports the developing children’s brain! Discouraging children happens when you have unreasonably or exaggerated high standards. This occurs when we, in general, are expecting them to do well and come up with good results in all sorts of endeavors, or if you expect every single hair on their head to be in place, or when you expect that their personal space or room will at all times be as neat as you would like.

We will also discourage our children when we’ll be promoting competitions between sisters and brothers, or when we have double standards when we expect utter cleanliness from our children but fail to do that ourselves. Keep also in mind that it’s pretty useless to give then the things WE think they want. Just try to figure out what their real needs and wants are so you can get them the things they really want.

Using encouragement means you emphasizing the positives. It means you need to use phrases that are showing acceptance of your child and phrases that are recognizing effort and improvement. Helping your teen find a vacation job that he or she likes will also boost their self-esteem. Make sure they’ll feel appreciated. Good examples are:

“I really like the way you’ve handled that.”
“I like the way you’ve tackled that problem.”
“I’m so glad you enjoy learning so much.”
“I’m really glad you’re pleased with it.”
“It looks like you’ve enjoyed that.”