Yesterday, the four year old and I went to the park. Lately, Andrew would rather spend time at the park drawing letters in the dirt or making up stories than running around and climbing on playground equipment. He is definitely more of a thinker than a born athlete (which is perfectly fine by me… athletics is not at all one of my strong points!) Still… remembering my days as the non-athletic one in school and thinking that is probably even harder for the boys… I try to help him to develop his confidence in those areas. Yesterday we tried a few ladders that led up to the reward of sliding down some pretty cool slides. Andrew’s initial reaction was, “I can’t do this! I don’t want to do this!”. I reminded him that he had conquered those ladders last fall and that I was right by his side. He still needed encouragement every step of the way… but after that first time his confidence was restored and he was ready to go do it again! One of my greatest joys as a parent is watching the elated look of “I did it!” on his face.
I started thinking of times I was encouraged in my life. The ones that most easily come to mind are from adulthood — someone telling me I was a strong person at a time I felt incredibly weak, a friend listening over lunch, support to pursue dreams, a hug on an incredibly bad day. Here is a list of some ways to encourage others… some are from my life, some are not. Some relate to giving comfort and courage to go on through tough times, and some are everyday ways to lift others’ spirits. My challenge to you is to work on encouraging others in your life. They will remember. Both you and the ones you encourage will be strengthened.
- Give a hug… even a virtual one (note: be careful with this one… I’ve been the recipient of a few unwanted hugs in my life, especially from the opposite sex!)
- Send a card just to say “I’m thinking of you”. Hand write a note inside.
- Take action to meet a need — take a meal, give a restaurant gift card, babysit the kids, come help clean house.
- Put notes in your kids lunchbox… and your spouse’s.
- Go around the dinner table as a family and say what you appreciated about each other that day.
- Be specific when telling someone what you appreciate or admire about them or their message.
- Keep checking in to see how things are going during extended tough times. Our society encourages people to be self-sufficient and not ask for help all of the time. That doesn’t mean we don’t need it.
- Remind others of their past victories.
- Share your story when appropriate. Don’t compare… but sometimes it helps to know you aren’t alone.
- Pass along quotes/Scriptures that are applicable.
- Recognize small changes in attitude and actions. Applaud positive steps… no matter how small.
- Listen. Keep listening. Ask questions. Listen to the answers.
- Spend time with the person you want to encourage. Your presence often says more than your words.
- Words to say: “You can do it! I believe in you!”
- When you ask, “How are you doing?”, listen.
- If someone confides in you… follow up later and ask how things are going.
- Say, “I love you.” (and then share why!)
The last 2 are from Andrew. I asked him today if there was a way I helped him when he was a little scared climbing the ladder. He said:
- Stand right next to me (good advice… it helps knowing someone is right there beside you!)
- Telling me which step to get on (more good advice… sometimes we are afraid because we don’t know the way to go or the first step to take to get there. Encouragers help us remember we don’t need to know all of the steps before starting our journey… we just need to have someone who has been there before and can lead us each step of the way).
Here are some more encouraging posts from todays A to Z challenge participants:
GA Flygirls FLY Journal (wow, do I need this blog!)
And, of course, Lee at Tossing It Out (his blog for today is encouragement in disguise)
Who encourages you? What are some things others have done or said to give you courage in facing a new or frightening situation, or to give you hope in discouraging times?
Speaking of encouragement… stop by my friend’s blog at Learning Contentment and encourage her as she is getting started with this A to Z challenge! 🙂