We’re All in This Together- The Value of Encouragement

We’re All in This Together- The Value of Encouragement
By Marc Bermann, JCFS Foster Parent Recruiter and Trainer

Encouragement can come in many forms. Sometimes it can be praise – a simple “good job!”  Other times, children need more than a kind word. It may take a hug, a special treat or giving more of your attention by playing a board game, watching a movie together or going to the park. There are hundreds of ways you can encourage a child, which, in turn will improve their self-esteem. Positive and personal messages such as “You can do it!”; “You have good ideas”; and “You are important” go a long way. The way you present these messages also is important. Here are some tips on how to do this: 

  1. Look your child in the eye. Stop what you’re doing and speak directly to him or her. This reinforces the importance of your message and your sincerity.
  2. Be specific with a phrase such as “I really like it when you put away your toys” or “Thank you for doing your chores. You’re a good helper.”
  3. Use praise often whenever you notice your child doing something positive.
  4. Praise immediately. It can have long-term benefits.
  5. Show enthusiasm. Use a smile, a gentle touch or a hug to show appreciation. Actions sometimes speak more loudly than words.
  6. Be consistent. The more consistently you encourage, the more consistently you will see good behavior.

Be mindful of the old phrase: “The most important thing you can “spend” on a child is your time.”  In the cases of trauma-affected children with histories of abuse and neglect, this philosophy can have the most benefit to their stabilization and development of positive coping skills as they manage their personal challenges. Remember, we’re all in this together, in the best interests of the children and youth in our care.

For more information about JCFS specialized Foster Care, contact Marc Bermann at 312.673.2755