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The Power of Positive Words
by Samantha Bell

When my children were very little, I remember praising them for even the smallest accomplishment. I applauded them when they took a few steps, cheered when they put two puzzle pieces together, and told them how smart they were when they could count to ten. Still today, when I practice with my five-year-old in making the "L" sound correctly when he speaks, I tell him that it was "perfect!"

With my older children, however, I find myself having to make a more conscious effort to praise them. Perhaps it's because we have bigger behavioral issues to deal with, but I find myself going for days without giving them a real word of encouragement. I often forget the power of those positive words.

When I was in college, the professor in my education class commented on the power of words. For every negative comment made to a student, five more positive ones had to be given just to even it out again.

Of course, we can't avoid the negative all together. Correction at home or in the classroom is necessary, and it most likely won't make the child feel good. But we can reinforce the message and encourage children by noticing their good behavior and acknowledging it. If they complete a job or an assignment, focus on what they did right, then show them where they might improve. Phrases such as "Good work!" or "You did that well!" or "I appreciate the way you handled that!" fuel the soul and cause children to try harder the next time.

I've been correcting my son's "L's" for the past two months, and I was sure he'd have grown tired of it by now. But with each "That's perfect!" he gains new confidence to try again and again. Now I just have to remind myself to encourage my other children as well, for we all need to hear good words, no matter how old we are.

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