Part 3: If you are going to encourage someone, say it loud and clear.

Youth has no failures. Everything is an experiment, a trial. We start from the beginning – trial and error – we stand up/we fall down; our milk makes it into the glass/we spill half of it.

Yes, when our kids are young, it’s easy to recognize change because it happens so fast; as they grow older, the changes maybe a little more subtle.  

Growing up, it isn’t long before they begin to learn things like how to get along with one another (to cooperate) or how to compete; to look at another’s perspectives; to test to find out just who it is they can trust; they learn to adapt or resist change, they begin to examine their values

During these years, there are many ways to praise or encourage them.  Just remarking, “That was a (kind, or a generous, thoughtful) thing to do” when you catch them in the act (you have to stay alert for this).  Or, when you’re at the ballgame, yell loudly: “Look at that kid run!  Run, kid, run!” (they love that one). Or you could yell out, “Hey! That’s my kid!” at their graduation– She’s Mine!”  Never forget how many there are out there who will highlight their missteps, their mistakes as they go along. Counter those with bravado!

Encouragement goes hand-in-hand with experimentation, wins, flops, trials, errors, achievements, losses, successes. And how do we learn things very quickly and well?  By doing things wrong, by failing. When mistakes or errors are made, to be of benefit, they need to be looked at to see what went wrong – What could have been done better? Was any part of it sloppy? What alternatives do you have?  How can it be fixed? Can it be more descriptive? All learning experiences.

These failures? They happen to anyone willing to take a chance, to risk on a hunch, to try something new.  These are the courageous.  Don’t let the clapping die down. These are the ones who need to know that there are people in their corner who believe in them. Find something to praise!  Keep clapping out loud!

We need to tell our children how proud we are of their achievements, no matter the size of the child or the accomplishment – sometimes it’s the big ones who need it the most.

Here are a few suggestions about ways you can learn and practice how to be interested in some of those things your children deal with during their daily adventures. It will help you to know how to inquire about them so that you will know what you are bragging about:  Concentrate and ask intelligent questions when your child or their friends describe how an electric car works, exactly how we are able to text on a cell phone, the names of all the parts of a dead grandaddy-long-legs under their scrutiny.

Learn to use words like “I always wondered how that worked,” “And what else?”  ”Tell me more,” and “This is fun, I wish I had known how to do it when I was  a kid,” “I wonder how…”, “ Did you ever wonder…..”

Challenges work too: “I bet I can memorize more names on the human skeleton than you can by tomorrow.”  Or, as his brother would bet: “I can eat more calves liver than you can eat before throwing up.”  Or: ”Let’s go out in the Reserve, just play like we’re lost and learn to use our compass.”  I need to find out…”

Let’s be able to feed our children’s inquisitiveness and excitement each time they discover a new, strange, hairy, juicy, wiggly thing in their world. Let’s get as excited as they are when they try something they ‘ve never done before – something new. And when they begin to wonder too… Then let’s clap real loud…                                           

“Never get discouraged if you fail. Learn from it. Keep trying.”   (Thomas Edison)

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