With our oldest daughter far away at college, I don’t often get immediate feedback on how she’s doing. Is her day going smoothly or could she use a little cheering up? Did she ace that test or is she struggling to keep up in a certain class?
I certainly pray for her! In a sense, I’m trusting the prompting of the Holy Spirit to know when a card in the mail, a phone call, or a random little gift might be the support that she needs. I believe that God can direct the timing of those things to arrive just when she could use a special blessing!
We can all use a dash of encouragement from time to time – and that certainly includes our children. Here are thirteen simple ideas we can use to help make their day just a little brighter.
1. Tuck a note into their lunchbox or book bag. Write a sweet thought or a short joke to make them smile. Kristen has links to all kinds of lunch box jokes here. Even my teen girls enjoy receiving a good joke! (And I’m following my own advice; I put a note in the mail to my college girl yesterday.)
2. Give them a big hug for no particular reason at all. This one’s sometimes easier when they’re younger, but no matter their age, sneak one in when you can!
3. When you drop them off at school, tell them that you’ll be praying for them today. Or if they’re older and have a cell phone, text at some point during the day that you’re praying for them. (And then, of course, follow through!)
4. Put a small treat on their bed for them to find when they get home at the end of the day. It could be their favorite candy or just a fun little something you picked up at a dollar store.
5. Smile at them often. I thought this would just be a natural habit, but I find that it isn’t necessarily, at least for me. Sometimes I have to actually make a conscious effort to smile!
6. Make eye contact and give your child your full attention when she’s telling you something. Sometimes we really don’t want to stop what we’re doing to hear about who did what on the playground today, but our children feel valued when they’re listened to.
7, Praise them for a task well done. We shouldn’t go overboard and throw a party every time he puts his toys away, but we all like to be commended for a job well done. I think this is especially effective if they took initiative and did something they weren’t asked to do.
8. When they are within earshot, tell another adult something good that your child has done. Let them hear you speak positively about them.
9. If you see them struggling with a task, offer your help. Some children want to do things all by themselves – and that can be good! – but if you sense they’re getting frustrated, offer to lend a hand.
10. Watch for an area in their character where you see growth and spend a few minutes sharing how proud you are of their progress. At one point, a daughter of ours was a procrastinator in lots of areas. As I saw her focus on getting things done on time, I tried to make sure to notice her efforts and commend her for them.
11. Willingly do something they ask you to do – stop working and play a game, help them find a lost item, etc. You can’t always drop everything you’re doing, but when you can, make that choice.
12. Allow them to help you with a project you’re working on that they’re interested in – cooking, cleaning, scrapbooking, or other chores or hobbies. It may slow you down in the moment, but it can lead to some sweet memories.
13. Every so often, allow them a special privilege, such as staying up late, having two helpings of dessert, or taking a day off from chores. Just a little change in routine can make them feel special.
I want to be mindful of encouraging my daughters regularly. And what a blessing it is, as they get older, to find that sometimes they’re the ones to encourage me!