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Showing Encouragement During the Toddler & Preschool Years

by YPI Editors | October 18th, 2016 | Communication, Communication, Infants/Toddlers, Preschool

2-year-old-feeding-himself-with-a-spoonSo much of parenting is a balancing act. Make sure they’re well cared for but not overindulged. Comfort them when they’re afraid, but also teach them to comfort themselves. The list could go on, but the point has been made. It’s a matter of finding moderation in most aspects of parenting, including encouragement.

As I’ve discovered through my years of parenting, if you start when the kids are little (toddler and preschool years), the parenting path is a bit easier. This is also true with encouragement. When your baby takes his first steps, you absolutely should clap and cheer. This is an exciting moment. When your toddler picks up a spoon and tries to feed himself yogurt, let him know that he can do it. However, a line needs to be drawn.

The problem begins when every minor goal your child meets becomes a reason for celebration. Back to our first example- the first steps. As mentioned previously, clapping for your daughter as she moves from point A to point B is normal and good. Cheering when she does this a second, third, or fourth time begins to teach her that she should be cheered every time she walks.

How does one find the balance? It isn’t something that needs to be charted or documented; you just need to be aware. Evaluate your reaction when you are with your child. Does every action he takes result in your clapping or giving praise? You’re overdoing the encouragement. The goal of encouragement is to let your child know that he did well. Once he has achieved the goal and received praise, he knows he did well. It doesn’t need to be repeated.

Most toddlers and preschoolers will go through a phase in which they actively seek praise. For example, on Wednesday your daughter may have learned how to build a multi-brick tower. You probably smiled at her and told her what a great job she did. When she does this again on Thursday, she may look to you for more praise. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to tell her that she did well, but you also want to begin to teach her to feel self-satisfaction in her work. Maybe ask her, “Do you think it’s a good building?”

Praise is important for people of all ages. Toddlers and preschooler are no different. Just a simple smile, a kind word, or a cheer is enough to make her feel proud of his accomplishment. Just be sure that he also learns to take pride on his own without needing assurance from others.

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