Encouragement can be as simple as, “Thanks for your help!” or “You really worked hard!” Here are a few more examples to try around your house:
Thank you for your help!
You should be proud of yourself!
Look at your improvement!
That “A” reflects a lot of hard work!
You worked really hard to get this room clean!
Thanks for helping set the table, that made a big difference.
I noticed you were really patient with your little brother.
What do you think about it?
You seem to really enjoy science.
Your hard work paid off!
That’s a tough one, but you’ll figure it out.
Look how far you’ve come!
I trust your judgment.
The time you’re putting into your homework is really paying off.
I love being with you.
You really put a smile on her face with your kind words!
That’s coming along nicely!
You really worked it out!
That’s a very good observation.
Thank you for your cooperation.
I see a very thorough job!
That’s what we call perseverance!
I can tell you really care.
You make it look easy!
You’ve really got the hang of it!
I can tell you spent a lot of time thinking this through.
I really feel like a team when we work like this!
The best part about using encouragement with your kids is the glow of happiness you’ll see on their faces. After all, “Your hard work is really paying off!” says you noticed their work, while, “You’re so smart,” might be hard to live up to next time. Try a little encouragement with your kids, and watch their behavior—and effort—improve.
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
A difficult problem for parents is when a child lies. Lying may mean your child has an active imagination, wants to please you, or is seeking attention. Parents can cope with a child who lies by following these simple parenting tools:
1. Provide opportunities for your child to express his
imagination without lying.
2. Point out the differences between fact and fantasy.
3. Practice telling the truth yourself so that your child
does not imitate you lying.
4. Don’t overreact to lying. Point out the need to tell the
truth and allow your child to do so without feelings ashamed.
5. Don’t push for confessions. These usually lead to bigger lies and more punishment.
6. Look for ways your child can get what they want without lying and reward him for not lying.
by Ron Huxley, LMFT
One of the most magical moments of my life was being at the birth of
my child. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I remember
watching him squirm and cry as he met the world. I remember how he
paused to listen to my voice as I whispered my love for him and
commitment to him. To this day, spending time with my kids continues
to be one of my favorite activities. To not spend time with my
children is unfathomable.
For many fathers, this isn’t the case. They sit in hospital waiting
rooms, clapping each other on the back and congratulating one another
on a job well done, while their child enters the world without their
father next to them. The day after the delivery and every day after
are filled with missed opportunities to bond with their child and
influence the directions they will take in life. They rationalize
that they are sacrificing for their family by working long hours and
justify their emotional distance as modeling how to survive in
the “cold, cruel world.” Food on the table and a roof over head is
nice but nothing makes up for loving, nurturing relationships with
How do fathers build this bond? What barriers stand in the way? And,
what are some practical tools to help fathers strengthen their
children intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically? To
help me answer these questions, I asked for advice from dad’s who
have a close bond with their children. How do I know they have a
close bond? I asked their wives! What’s more, these wives are
webmasters of active parenting and family oriented websites.
How do you bond with your child?
In response to this question, all of the fathers answered alike. They
stated that the best way to bond was simply to spend time with a
child. What you do is not as important as doing something.
They divided activities up into four main areas: Physical,
Intellectual, Social, and Spiritual. A balance of these four areas
would result in a child having a happier, healthier life. Physical
activities are the most familiar to fathers and include working
around the house together, sharing a hobby, coaching an athletic
team, exercising together, and going places together.
Intellectual activities focus on being involved in a child’s
academics, participating in school related activities, encouraging
hard work, and modeling yourself as a their primary teacher of life.
Social activities centered on talking with children, sharing feelings
and thoughts, demonstrating appropriate affection and manners, and
getting to know your child’s friends. Spiritual activities are used
the least by dad’s but have the most power to influence a child.
These activities incorporate reading spiritual stories together,
going to church or the synagogue, praying with children, establishing
rules and order, being consistent and available, and exploring the
mysteries of nature.
What is difference between the father/child bond and the mother/child
It was quickly apparent from the surveys that dad’s have a different
approach or style to bonding than mom’s. Dad’s have a more rough and
tumble approach to physical interaction or may spend time in more
physical activities such as play or working on a project together.
Competition was also seen more in father/child bonding and was
considered healthy if used in small doses and with sensitivity to a
child’s temperament and abilities. Sportsmanship, but not necessary
sports activities, was regarded as an essential ingredient in the
development of a child’s characters. While the approach may differ,
the need for bonding with mom and dad is equally significant. One dad
joked that other than a couple of biological differences (e.g.,
giving birth or breastfeeding) he couldn’t see one as more important
than the other.
What barriers prevent fathers from achieving a bond with their child?
All of the fathers agreed that work and the mismanagement of time
were the biggest robbers of relationships with children. No one
discounted a father’s responsibility to provide for his family, but
all of them maintained that a healthy balance is needed between work
and family. They felt that society makes it easy to use one’s career
as an escape. Social influences tend to value the bond a child has
with mom to be more important than with dad. But none of the dad’s
questioned felt this barrier to be insurmountable.
Eliminating barriers in society begins in the home. Dads must
demonstrate that being involved in the home is important to them
before society will start treating dads as important to the home.
Dads need to take the initiative to change a diaper, clean up after
dinner, give the kids their bath, and do the laundry. The collective
effect of these “small” acts will ripple out into society to
create “bigger” change.
Can a father bond with a child if they did not have a father growing
The entire group affirmed that not having a father would make it more
difficult but not impossible to bond with a child. According to one
dad, bonding is more of an innate need or spiritual drive, than
simply a learned behavior. Therefore, fatherless fathers are not
doomed to repeat their own childhood experiences. Another dad
suggested “getting excited” by the little things that make a child
excited or happy. Getting down on the child’s level, regressing to
those early moments in life when you were a child, and sharing simple
pleasures with your child will foster the bonding missed the first
In summary, it is clear that the bond between a father and a child is
an important one. Barriers, such as social values and absent fathers
make bonding with children difficult but not impossible. Children
need the unique style of bonding that fathers can provide and fathers
can build that bond by spending time engaging in physical,
intellectual, social, and spiritual activities.
• Assess your child’s risk. A youngster who is generally doing well in life — happy, well adjusted, engaged with the family — generally poses less risk for potential problems than one with a family history of drug or alcohol abuse, depression or in the midst of a family crisis. If your son falls in the high risk category, I would urge you to get outside professional help to nip any serious problems in the bud.
• Be cautious about punishments. If there is no history of addiction in your family tree and you are certain that your son is generally doing well socially, emotionally and academically, focus on keeping the lines of communication open. If your teen is afraid of your reaction, it is unlikely that he will continue to confide in you. Punishing him may simply encourage him to become better at hiding any future use from you.
• Strengthen connection. When we feel seen, understood and cherished by someone, it is much harder to keep secrets from them. Teens often give us signals that suggest they aren’t interested in having us around, but look for ways to keep nourishing the connection you and your son share — cooking together, walking the dog or even chatting about music or sports while you unload the dishwasher together. The more he feels anchored to you as his North Star, the less influenced he will be by peer pressure.
• Talk with him about how he felt when he smoked. If he tells you that he really liked it, discuss why drugs and alcohol make people feel better. Explain the way the brain works, and the impact these substances can have on lowering inhibition or lifting mood —temporarily.
• Model healthy ways of unwinding. Consider what your son sees you doing to relax at the end of the day, or when you socialize with your friends. If you have a glass of wine the minute you get home from work or immediately open a six-pack when friends show up, you may be “teaching” him that enjoyment cannot happen without some kind of substance. Show him you can enjoy life without leaning on something to help you lower your inhibitions or numb out, and you will send the message that he can do the same.
• Don’t force unwanted advice. Instead, ask him if he would be open to listening to your concerns. Explain that while you understand “everyone” may be smoking weed or drinking, the stress relief many kids experience while under the influence of pot or alcohol can quickly become at least psychologically addicting, and that there are better — and healthier — ways of handling social anxiety and pressures. Show him the impact these substances have on the brain; there are some great scans at brainplace.com.
•Keep your eyes open. If you start to sense that your son’s use has escalated beyond normal experimentation, do not hesitate to set guidelines that send him a clear message that it is not okay. At 15, his brain is still in a vulnerable and formative stage, and it is your responsibility to help him make sound decisions that preserve his health and safety. Some kids tell me that they actually appreciate it when their parents tell them that they might start conducting random drug tests; it makes it easier way to say “No” at a party if they can tell their buddies, “I can’t; my parents are drug testing me.”