Posted tagged ‘ADD/ADHD’

Encouragement is the fuel that powers children, tweens & teens

February 10, 2011

“A misbehaving child is a discouraged child,” and “A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water,” according to Rudolf Dreikurs, MD, an Austrian physician and child-whisperer.

When yelling, punishment and bullying my children failed, I started to read Dreikurs’ book, “Children, the Challenge,” published in 1960 with Vicki Soltz, RN.

It took months, even years, for me to experience how encouragement led to improved behavior and a more positive mother-child relationship.

Encouragement is preventative maintenance that is different from praise. Encouragement is like an apple; praise is like candy.

Apples — good for you, not too sweet, versatile, store well, natural, un-processed.

Candy — not so good for you, so sweet you can get a headache, a treat, gets stale, processed and usually laden with high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives and colorings.

A little praise every once in a while is okay. Daily overdoses of praise will give a child a headache, set up unrealistic expectations and teach her to perform for parents.

“Molly, I’m so proud of you for getting an A on that test!” Oh yeah, here’s another problem with praise. It can only be given after success. Encouragement is so potent that it can be given after failure.

“Alicia, You must be disappointed you didn’t make the travel soccer team. Do you want to sign up for a soccer camp or try another sport? You can also play town soccer.”

“Brian, these lemon squares are good. It doesn’t matter that you combined the topping and the crust. It’s hard to hurt homemade food. Can I have another one?”

“Alexa, you put away half of that mess you left in the family room. Good start. Do you need some help with the rest?”

Can you see that encouragement is specific and focused on the deed, not the doer. Praise is general and high-energy. Encouragement is low-key.

Some of my coaching clients report that their children cannot tolerate praise. They feel uncomfortable and mis-behave within 10 minutes after a sticky-sweet praise-ful overkill: “I’m so proud of you for finishing your homework before dinner.” Children and especially teens, don’t like to be seen as too good.

Children with ADD and ADHD can especially benefit from regular doses of encouragement, especially because encouragement acknowledges effort. Children with ADD/ADHD can also suffer from low self-esteem as a side-effect of their disorder.

Encouragement is a solid sustainable way to nurture a child’s self-esteem and promote the behavior you want to see in a youngster. It takes time and effort to learn and use. See my tip sheet on it.

I’ll be giving two workshops on Encouragement and ADD/ADHD Youngsters next week. Tuesday Feb. 15 at Roudenbush Community Center in Westford, Mass. and Thursday, Feb. 17 in Concord-Carlisle Adult Education. Both start at 7 pm and are in the Boston, Mass. area.

The how and why of encouragement is worth reviewing regularly and practicing daily. Hope to see you at a workshop.

By the way, “thank you” is a powerful form of encouragement. Just witnessing children is encouragement. Encouragement is just as potent when used on adults and in the workplace. It’s very versatile.

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