As parents, we are often sending many messages to our children by what we say and how we say things. Our words can add value or cause harm to the livelihood of our children. So with this in mind, here are some ways to make a greater impact on your child’s confidence by elevating the power of your words so that you are sending messages that shape their own beliefs about what they can accomplish in their lifetime.
- Choose your words carefully. When you are praising your child, make sure your praise is focused on their process and not praise that sends a message that their success is some type of inherent, inborn quality that the possess. Focus more on the effort that they put into the task, instead.
Example: “You’re a natural at math.” Instead say, “These problems didn’t give you much challenge. Let’s find problems that will really stretch your brain!”
- Be specific. When you are praising your child, use specific language versus vague language. Vague type of praise doesn’t reinforce the specific behavior you want to see more of. It’s more or less a blanket statement that has little meaning. Specific language gives children more of an idea of what it is they are actually doing well or what they can improve in.
Example: “Good job!” Instead say, “Good job taking responsibility with getting your homework done before you play video games. It shows that you are really maturing.”
- Give honest feedback. When providing children with corrective feedback (which is necessary to do), it’s important to make sure that the feedback is constructive. Feedback should not be person-centered but rather process-centered.
Example: “You really messed this up.” Instead say, “This didn’t seem to work out for you. How could you approach this problem differently?”
With these strategies in place, you will see a major difference in how your child responds to your words. Because of your intentionality in how you communicate, your child will reap the benefits of thinking about problems in a different way and moving past setbacks quickly and more effectively.