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Positive Guidance and Encouragement

                                                                 Positive Guidance and Encouragement When Raising a Young Child

​                                                                                                  Young children are highly susceptible to negative feedback. For this reason, positive and

                                                                                           gentle guidance are crucial elements in their formative years.

                                                                                                  By Mellissa Bushby  |  Courtesy 

                                                                                                 To reach his or her full potential, a child needs gentle care and guidance. Bad habits and incorrect attitudes

                                                                                                 can restrict young children in many ways, affecting their perception of the world and the people around them

                                                                                                 in later life.


                                                                                                 Guiding a Child’s Understanding

                                                                                                 By the time a child reaches the age of three or four, he (or she) should have a comparatively broad idea about

                                                                                                 what is acceptable, such as the difference between hot and cold, and why boiling water or pots on the stove

                                                                                                 can be dangerous, or that plug sockets are not for fingers (or foreign objects).


                                                                                                 A child will learn many things on his own, and experience is the best teacher, but children still need direction,

                                                                                                 and gentle supervision. Children are not born with the innate fear that adults have, whether it be from

                                                                                                 personal experience or knowledge gained by societal doctrine, such as a fear of snakes or spiders.

The Importance of a Positive Outlook When Raising Children

Always focus on the positive where children are concerned – a positive or negative outlook starts at an early age, and the attitude of the parent has an almost exclusive impact on this. For example, if a parent has a negative self-esteem, a child will pick up on this and emulate it. Children learn by example. By the same token, a parent who says please and thank you is setting the stage for a child who says please and thank you.

Always reward positive behaviour – not with treats or sweets, but with a smile or a hug. This is not to say that giving a child the occasional sweet or treat is a bad thing, it’s not, but by rewarding them with sweets for good behaviour or good manners, the implication becomes one of courtesy being a good turn, so to speak. And one good turn deserves another, whereas courtesy, as well as good behaviour should be intrinsic to all children.

Children Respond to Warmth, Affection and Recognition

Children respond best to warmth and affection, and just as plants need the sun to grow, children need the love and approval of their parents to grow. Show your appreciation of agreeable actions immediately, do not delay this as their attention spans are fairly short, and they may have forgotten the deed not long after. It is important to acknowledge and praise positive attitudes, because when negative traits are constantly noticed and acknowledged, a child will learn to associate attention with negative behaviour.

Children crave recognition from their parents, even if the recognition is negative, or in the form of a reprimand. The other side of the coin of course, is not to create too much fuss when a child displays acceptable behaviour. Children quickly learn to manipulate this, and use it to their advantage in getting their own way. Exemplary behaviour should be innate, not used as a tool, and this is a valuable – and crucial – lesson to learn when young.

Encourage Children Instead of Criticizing Them

Always remember that children understand quite clearly what their parents say. Many people forget this fact, and speak of their children, while in their presence, as if they have suddenly lost their hearing, saying things such as “She can be very naughty/disruptive/cheeky”, for example. This inevitably teaches a child to feel naughty/disruptive/cheeky, and she will ultimately become whatever negative attribute has been ascribed to her. This is disloyal and destructive towards the emotional growth of a child.

Children need gentle encouragement. They must be allowed to make mistakes, while at the same time be shown, in a constructive manner, where it was they went wrong. If, for example, a child put a puzzle or toy together incorrectly, instead of reprimanding him, it would be more productive to say something along the lines of “that’s very clever, but perhaps try placing that piece over there instead”. Patience is crucial.

Bear in mind that sometimes a child will find a different solution to the one that a parent may feel is the obvious one – if the outcome is the same it stands to reason that their solution works just as well. Developing individuality and independence starts at an early age, and is of the utmost importance.

Children love to be given responsibility.

Giving them grown up tasks, or allowing them to assist in the kitchen for example, builds their self-esteem immensely, they feel important, and that their input and opinion is significant to their parent. This also develops a keenness to be useful, and ultimately makes a helpful, willing child.

Allow children to make mistakes, no matter how many times they make the same one. This is the best way for them to learn, and with gentle guidance and encouragement, instead of criticism, they will get it right, and the sense of achievement that accompanies this is an invaluable lesson for a child. Children respond to warmth and affection, especially if associated with the praise and delight of a loving parent.

Copyright Mellissa Bushby

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