Empower Your Children

As parents we aspire to do our best to raise our children to have a good sense of self-worth and an ability to make the best decisions on their own.  We desire for them to learn the skills that will make them into strong, independent people as they grow and develop.  We long for them to be self-motivated to do what needs to be done, whether that is homework, chores, practice for sports, music, or dance.  We help them learn to deal with their emotions and have compassion and empathy for others, in the midst of sibling rivalry and troublesome friendships.

On the blog, themommyviewthe author states that “praising good behavior, can lead children to believe that they are worthy, simply because of the actions that they take and the things that they do.  Acknowledging the motivation that it took to complete an action, helps a child feel good about themselves.  This intrinsic motivation is powerful for kids.  In the future they will not repeat the action because it pleases you, but they will repeat it because it feels good to them.  This is what leads to positive behavior and action for a lifetime.”

So, then how do we put this process into action?  The author lists the steps below:

  • Recognize- What does your child do that you want to praise?  Art work, setting the table, cleaning up ?                                                                                                                                  Take note of exactly what it is you are praising.
  • Acknowledge- You have recognized what your child has done.  Now think about what they need to do to complete the task.  What skills, emotions, or thoughts were involved?
  • Appreciate-Appreciate those skills that they used.  Understand the feelings and emotions that they had and be thankful they took them into consideration.

The author gives examples of specific phrases that parents can use to empower their kids.  These phrases recognize and acknowledge the specific task that your child has done, and they show appreciation for their actions.  Here are some of her examples:

  • “You worked really hard on that.”
  • “You are a really helpful brother/sister.”
  • “Thank you for being such a great listener.”
  • “That really took a lot of practice.  I am glad that you stuck with it.”

Another blog, imperfect familiesshares a post entitled:  “Do you REACT or RESPOND to Your Kids?”  In the blog the author shares 2 ways that we can respond to our children in certain situations.  She points out that the “responding” messages are so much more powerful than the “reacting” messages that we give our children.  Here are some examples:

React Respond
“Stop that crying right now! You look upset, do you need a hug?”
“If you two don’t stop fighting, I’m turning this car around!” I am pulling over.   When the car is quiet, I will continue driving.”
“What?! You spilled your juice again!” “Oops, let’s get a rag and get that mess cleaned up.”
“Darn right, it’s not fair. Life’s not fair. Get used to it.” “I can tell you’re upset about my decision.”
“Another “C”? What’s going on with you?” “It looks like you are struggling in math. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“That’s enough whining, young lady!” “Please use a calm voice when asking me for something.”
“I’ve had it with you!” “I’m feeling frustrated right now. I’m going to take a walk to calm down.”

Another way of empowering children is to learn what their “love language” is.  There are five love languages:

  1. physical touch and closeness
  2. words of affirmation or encouragement
  3. quality time
  4. gift giving
  5. acts of service

The blog, for the family, describes the definitions for each of these categories.

  • Physical Touch and Closeness- Physical touch often speaks louder than words to children.  There are some children who would let you hold them all day, or those who love it when you rub their backs, or want to hold your hand as you walk into the grocery store.  This child is smiling when you are sitting near them at the table.  For these children hugs mean more to them than a bowl of ice cream, more than words could ever say.
  • Words of Encouragement or Affirmation- These children light up when they are told that their cursive is awesome, that their bed was made the best, or that they did great at soccer practice.  This child needs to know that you love him with your words and not your time, your touch, or your gifts.  None of these things will mean the smallest amount to a child who is yearning for your words of encouragement, gratitude and positive conversation.
  • Quality Time- This is focused attention- time spent doing anything together will define this child.  It could be sitting on the couch in conversation, in the same room as the family, even if everyone is doing something different.  As long as you are together, this child is as happy as a clam.  Washing dishes together, going for a walk, having a family game night or reading a book with this child are all good activities.
  • Gift Giving-Generosity, giving, and loving to receive the simplest of gifts will define this child.   This could be the child who would give you his favorite stuffed animal, or the teen who would give his last $50.00 to the guy on the corner with a sign in his hand.  This is the child who would buy gifts for every single person in the home and stretches his money to make it work.  The reaction of love when you give them a simple gesture of a gift, will blow you away.  It could be a note in the mail, a stick of gum, or a special drink.  Gift givers are easy to spot.  They are generous and appreciative.
  • Acts of Service-We all know that acts of service can be emotionally and physically exhausting.  A word of caution about this love language- “Be careful not to use this as a way to manipulate your children.  Begin with helping and doing things that they cannot do for themselves.  Move into creating an independent people, showing them how to serve others or when they need help.  Do not force extreme independence on them.” These children will run errands for you, be the first ones to step up for a needed role, and volunteer for the smallest details that you may ask for help with.  These children are generous with their time to serve others and usually do so with a joyful spirit.  They will love to serve with you.  This is the best opportunity to show them Christ’s love in action.  They are the next world changers- using their feet and their hands.

When you learn your child’s love language, respond to them in their favorite language.  Speak to them in the way that they will best hear you.  Finding your children’s strengths and love languages are like mining for gold.  While you are panning and sifting to find their gifts, talents, and to help them grow, you discover the way to their hearts, shares the author of the blog.

The challenge that we have as parents, is that we often respond to other people in our own love language.  The problem is that so often our children may have different love languages than ours.  Therefore, it is necessary for parents to identify each of our children’s love languages and then reach out to each child in the child’s love language.      That might mean that parents will be responding to various siblings with alternate love languages.  Our children will feel empowered in any situation that confronts them, if we are able to communicate with them on their level and in their particular love language.  Our children will then perceive that they are loved, understood, and valued for who they are.

May He hold you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith





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