Encouragement builds relationships

Posted on · Posted in Parenting

Encouragement is not primarily about solving problems. Encouragement builds relationships. It is primarily about engaging in thoughts and activities that bring honor to God. In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul urges you to focus on things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Here are two practical examples of doing this:

Two young children are fussing and complaining.

Negative response:
“Why can’t you two just be quiet! Being noisy and fussy is a distraction to everybody in this house. I don’t want to hear any more unpleasantness, and I mean it! Do you understand?!?”

Response that encourages:
“God’s Word says that we should be thankful for each other. Sarah, Ethan, remember that we talked about things we can be thankful for about each other? Well, this is a good time to remember those things. How does God want you to respond when your brother or sister is not pleasant? “

“That’s right, he wants you to return good for evil. Excellent! Let’s pray and then I can spend a little bit of time playing with you two.”

A middle-school child has a difficult schoolwork assignment.

Negative response:
“You are still behind on this assignment aren’t you? If you had just listened to what I told you last week, you wouldn’t be behind now, would you? What did I tell you? Remember, God says you must be diligent. Well, I hope you learn from this, young man. If you don’t solve this problem now it will plague you for the rest of your life. This time, stay with it.”

Response that encourages:
“Hey – you still struggling with that assignment? Okay, why don’t you tell me what is hard for you about this assignment?”

After the explanation:
“Let’s take another look at what is confusing you. But first, let’s ask God to help you with this.”

“Okay, now, what does your teacher want you to accomplish with this assignment? … Okay, good, so you understand that part. Okay, tell me what steps are necessary to finish this project? …”

“Great! Write each one down and let me know when you have completed each step. If you get stuck on one of the steps, let me know and we will work through it. Does that sound like a plan to you?”

“Cool. I know this is not great fun, but remember that God planned for you to have this class just so you could learn to work through these issues. Hang in there! I really appreciate you working with me on this!”

By focusing on encouragement often the things that are negative will be addressed as well. Practically, patiently and pleasantly encouraging your children will honor God and help your kids to turn to you when they face hard choices!

Shepherding a Child's Heart

Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.