In the primary grades, our job as educators is to grow young learners. Sure, the academic content is important – without the academic knowledge of the early grades, our students won’t be successful in the upper elementary grades. But we want to be sure to not only grow students who know things but students who love learning. One way we can help our kids develop a love for learning is by helping to cultivate a growth mindset in them through encouragement and coaching. Kids thrive on encouragement and attaboys (or girls!). The kinds of things we encourage, when we encourage, and how we encourage our kids can have a powerful effect on their self-esteem and willingness to learn and try new things.
Let's get something out of the way first - I’m not suggesting we coddle our children and give them trophies for writing their names on the top of the paper every day. That would be counterintuitive! Sometimes our kids just need to do things because this is what is required or expected of them. We should not raise kids to expect a reward or attaboy every time they comply with an adult request.
That being said, we need to be aware of their little victories and wins. Has your child worked extra hard to complete a certain project or chore around the house? Has she gone the extra mile? Has he conquered a difficult problem after sticking with it even though he wanted to give up? Has your child reacted to a stressful situation in an appropriate way after struggling to do so previously? These are the things we should celebrate with our children. Pay attention to and try to find small victories every day.
"Pay attention to and try to find small victories every day."
Celebrations do not have to be grandiose events. Celebrations can be as simple as a quick acknowledgment of a job well done. Our kids are constantly bombarded by negative messages in movies, on video games, and on television. We need to bombard them with positivity! Science has proven that a person who disciplines himself to think positively will eventually have an optimistic outlook on things. Those who do not, tend to be more pessimistic. We have a powerful opportunity to shape our children’s thinking by celebrating small wins and speaking truth into them.
Here are a few ways you might celebrate small wins:
Write a quick note and place it on your child’s pillow.
When you see your child make the right choice say something! “That was exactly what you should have done. I am proud of you!”
Let your child pick a small treat – and eat it right before dinner 😊 .
Tell the family about the win at dinner – let her be the center of attention for a quick minute
Stickers! Need I say more?
Give a quick high five.
Let your child know you saw his effort – a quick whisper in his ear will be very effective. “I saw your effort on that math problem. You didn’t give up. That was awesome!”
Dance! Blast a favorite song and take a silly dance break.
Take a break for a quick game.
Give your child more responsibility or a special job to do. Remind her that when she does well on the little things, that tells you she is ready for the big things.
Give a great big hug.
Put his work on display for everyone to see (on the fridge, on a wall somewhere, or even on social media!).
Chocolate! (Even better than stickers!)
Free time. Who doesn’t love a little downtime?
There are so many ways to celebrate small wins. Try to find a small win every day. Celebrations don’t have to be expensive or time-intensive – they just need to be genuine. What are some of your child’s small victories? How have you celebrated those victories?
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