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Top Tips for Parents: What’s the Ultimate Take-Away?

What do you think is the top tip for parents when it comes to supporting their child’s learning and development?

Take a minute (or longer) to think about it.

Parents often gather information from sources such as books, presentations, interactive sessions, articles, webinars, and podcasts—and these typically culminate in a list of final “take-aways.” Suggestions might include ways to nurture children’s intelligence, creativity, industry, resilience, independence, motivation, confidence, values, skills, and so on… All VERY important!

However, because each family dynamic differs, you have to determine what’s best for yours, and for your particular set of circumstances. That said, there’s one supportive measure that stands out from all the others.


You may think that’s a basic premise, and that you regularly provide your child with abundant guidance, praise, and reinforcement. If so, that’s great!

But there are nuances which you might want to consider.

Briefly, here’s why encouragement is important, what it looks like, some suggestions on how to offer it, and (of course) some final take-aways!

Why Does Encouragement Matter?

  • Encouragement promotes agency. “When children sense that they have ownership of their activities and that their learning choices are respected, they are more inclined to commit to them and see them through.” (Not Now, Maybe Later, p. 109.)
  • Encouragement also promotes enthusiasm—which is empowering. “By harnessing enthusiasm and pushing yourself forward you can change your world, one action and one day at a time.” (Bust Your BUTS, p. 133)
  • Encouragement enhances learning. “Nine-tenths of education is encouragement.” (Anatole France, Novelist)

What Does Encouragement Look Like?

  • Listen carefully.
  • Inquire intelligently.
  • Pay attention to difficulties when they arise.
  • Tackle one concern at a time by suggesting practical coping measures.
  • Pick a suitable place to provide feedback (ideally in a timely manner).
  • Focus on the positives, and on being constructive.
  • Help kids realize and accept their limitations.
  • Consult with professionals for extra support if needed.

How to Offer Encouragement?

Go step by step, while being receptive to children’s resourcefulness, curiosity, determination, and effort—all of which will help accelerate their learning.

  • Ensure ample opportunities for kids to feel a sense of purpose, satisfaction, and accomplishment. Identify these.
  • Co-create fair, fitting, and flexible expectations.
  • Use helpful checklists, such as How to model effective coping skills; How to reassure; and How to support your child in taking action. (See Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids, pp. 187 – 189.)

Encouragement: Final Take-Aways

Consider the following questions:

  • What’s worked before? And conversely, what might be a waste of time?
  • Who can reiterate, exemplify, congratulate, or validate? Perhaps family, friends, teachers, mentors, coaches….
  • How can kids participate in planning their own learning experiences to ensure they’re appropriate and enjoyable? Invite choice, and self-selected explorations. Giving children a chance to hold the reins can be self-affirming.
  • What skill sets require attention? For example, work habits, organization, decision-making, communication, self-advocacy? Address areas of weakness in the context of areas of strength. Commend progress and effort.

Providing children with encouragement will help them take responsibility for their actions and learning advancement, and motivate them to proceed and to succeed, too.

Author’s Note: This article is updated from one written by Dr. Joanne Foster that was featured in issues of Best Version Media’s Neighbours Magazines, and distributed across Ontario, Canada

Dr. Joanne Foster

Dr. Joanne Foster, an acclaimed author and educator, has dedicated over 35 years to gifted education and child development. With expertise in psychology and special education, her work empowers parents and educators, fostering creativity and high-level learning in children and teens.

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