Do you ever think about the influence you are having on the children in your life? Have you thought about the importance of encouraging children, and building them up? So often, it seems like children are disregarded. Pushed away. Ignored. I have seen it so many times, and sadly, often even been the one at fault. So today, I wanted to take just a few minutes to chat with you about it……. How can we make sure that we are building up and encouraging the children in our lives? How can we be sure that we are impacting their young lives for the better?
Realize That sometimes, the small things matter just as much as the “big” things.
Obviously there are some major problems with the way that some children are being raised. And we all know that. Whether it be in a physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive home, I’m sure we would all say that’s an awful environment that no child should ever have to live in. But yet so often we can forget about the seemingly “smaller” things that we do, maybe even unknowingly, that hurt the lives of the children around us. We really have no idea what kind of impact we may be having on the lives around us. That could be a good thing, if you are doing your best to encourage and build up the people around you, or it could be exactly the opposite.
It’s the hastily spoken words, the moments of frustration, and the times when you are ignoring them. Those are the seemingly “small” things, that can so easily build up to creating an awful relationship between you and the child. It’s not just about making sure that the children are fed, clothed, and healthy. They need to be loved, listened to, respected, and encouraged!
You are making an impact, whether you are trying to or not.
It seems that often, people forget that their words, actions, and decisions WILL affect the lives around them. It is said that the average person will directly impact at least 5,000 people in their lifetime. Wow, that’s a pretty serious thought! Are we going to be making a good impact, or a bad one? Really, the choice is ours. Most of us will never know the impact that we have on the lives around us. And especially the children! I am constantly amazed at the pure joy and innocence that young children have. But then, as the years go on and those same children reach the pre-teen and teen years, so much of that joy and confidence that they had, quickly disappears. As the parents, older siblings, friends, caregivers, and older people, we are left wondering, “What in the world happened?” That sweet, innocent child that you once knew, is now angry, missing church, and getting into trouble. You have witnessed the smile slowly fade from their face. They look discouraged and they put themselves down at every chance they get. Any time you try to tell them that they did a good job on something, they act like they don’t believe you. We even hear awful comments like, “I hate my life. I’m so ugly. I’m so awful. I wish I could just die.” Once again, we stand watching and think, “What happened to the young child who was so joyful and full of life? How could they change so much?”
Well, whatever it was that caused this change in their life, it didn’t just happen overnight. It wasn’t just one single incident. One of the biggest problems was that they weren’t built up as young children. They weren’t encouraged. Their lives were most likely filled with negative, hurtful, discouraging words from friends, siblings, and even parents! Negative words just produce more negative words. We can wonder how they could ever speak such awful, discouraging, hurtful things about themselves, but usually, those children are just speaking the same words that others have said to them!
Negativity can only produce negativity. Positivity and encouragement also has a similar snowball affect. Use that knowledge wisely.
Young children need to be encouraged and built up just as much as everyone else in this world. Actually even more! Think about it, one of your younger brothers comes up to you holding a hammer and a piece of wood with three little nails sticking out of it. “Look! I built a bird house!” What is your response? Of course, you know that it’s not really a bird house, but what do you do? I’m not saying just lie to kids to tell them what they want to hear, but most times it’s just not necessary to tell them every little thing that they’ve done wrong. It’s not necessary to scrutinize every single little thing that they try to do. In this case, there is no need to tell him, “Wow that really looks awful! That’s not a birdhouse at all. Is that really the best you could do?” And then just walk away. How does that leave him feeling? Well, the same way we would be feeling if it was our work that had just been laughed at. I can already imagine the smile coming off of his adorable little face as he looks down again at his precious little bird house and says, “Oh…. Yeah. It does look pretty bad.” When inside he’s thinking, “But I tried my best! Why didn’t they like it?”
Do you see what just happened? Immediately that child is saddened and discouraged by the way his little creation was treated. Think of how different the outcome would’ve been if the adult in the situation had actually ACTED like the adult that they were supposed to be. The little boy comes to you with a big smile on his face. “Look! Look at the birdhouse I built all by myself!” Now what happens if instead of criticizing and instead of discouraging, you choose to treat that young child the way he should be treated. He’s looking up to you. Looking for your smile. Looking for your approval. Looking for words of affirmation that he has done a wonderful job. “Wow! You did that all by yourself?” If you have children, younger siblings, or you work with children, I’m sure you know the impact that those words make on a child! His eyes start to sparkle with excitement. “Yes! Yes! I did this all by myself! Seriously! Isn’t that awesome?!” By now, that child is probably jumping up and down from excitement. But why shouldn’t we take it a step farther and offer to help them? “You did such a good job! Would you like me to help you build another one? We can build sides and a roof on it so the birds can live inside of it!” At that point, that child is beyond overjoyed. You liked his little birdhouse and you’re even going to help build another one that birds can actually live inside!
See the difference? Our words have such an impact on those little lives. What are little girls doing when they play with their dolls? They aren’t just being silly and goofing off. They are acting like little mommies. They are looking forward to being a mother someday. They change their babies clothes, pretend to feed them, rock them to sleep when they cry, lay them down for nap time, wrap them up in little blankets, and carry them around with them every where they go. Why would we ever say that they are just wasting their time? Why would we laugh at their seriousness? I understand that sometimes it can be quite amusing to see the “little adults” walking around, but why would we ever be purposely mean or treat what they’re doing as stupid?
If a child runs up to show you the picture that they just drew, what is your response? There really is no need at all to look at them and say, “Wow. I really have no idea what that’s supposed to be. In fact, it just looks like scribbles on a page!” (Besides, those aren’t scribbles. That’s amazing abstract art. They could turn out to be an amazing artist and that first little painting could sell for thousands someday! 🙂 ) Once again, I’m not saying just lie to them and flatter them, but be encouraging and do your best to choose your words wisely! If you speak negatively to them, what kind of reaction are you going to get? It definitely won’t help that child in their life! Just imagine them a few years down the road. Is their artwork going to be spectacular because people encouraged them to do their best and keep working hard at it? Or will they just say, “Well, I used to love to draw, but my drawings were pretty awful so I stopped. It doesn’t matter. I’m no good at it anyways.”
When we do our best to speak positive, encouraging words to the little ones around us, we are one step closer to impacting their lives for the better! Our words are one of the most important building blocks in encouraging and building up the little ones. Speak carefully!
So now I want to hear from YOU! Do you realize the importance of encouraging and building up the children in your life? What are some ways that you do that? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below!
For a wonderful blog post related to this subject, check out this post, Nurturing Your Brothers Manhood, by Allison Bontrager.
Note: This post is not pertaining to disciplining or correcting children, that is an entirely different matter. When talking of encouraging and building up children, I do NOT mean that they must never be told no or corrected.