Too much encouragement? No such thing.
There is no such thing as too much encouragement.
There is this misunderstanding that too much encouragement can create entitled, superior, narcissistic people, but that’s simply not true. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. Behaving like an entitled, self-centered jerk is the mark of someone who feels pretty lousy about themselves. They act like they’re better than others, but it’s because they don’t really think that they are. Encouraging people boosts their self-esteem—the way one feels about one’s self. People with healthy feelings of self-esteem don’t need to behave like they are better than others to feel better about themselves. So encouragement may just be the antidote to snotty, supercilious behavior!
Don’t ever worry about giving someone (especially the youngest among us) too much encouragement. Maybe one day, we can all live at home on the range, where seldom is heard a discouraging word. But for now, we live in a world where discouraging words can be heard all the livelong day.
Lift people up as high as you can whenever you can. Instill confidence in their abilities and gifts. Don’t worry for a minute about overdoing it. Kids (and grown-ups) will encounter plenty of people who will do their best to tear down any building up that has occurred. Be a builder—not a human demolition team.
Encouragement is not coddling.
Encouragement is not a-trophy-for-everyone-because-everybody-is-a-winner mentality.
Encouragement has nothing to do with winning and losing, and everything to do with the belief that everyone brings something unique and valuable to the game.
Encouragement is not lying. It’s not telling someone that they’re good at something when they’re not. It’s not pretending to like something you don’t.
Encouragement is acknowledging and lifting up what is true and good and gifted in a person. Acknowledging is the keyword here. Consider all the times we notice or recognize those gifts, but don’t let others know that we know.
Think of encouragement as building a fortress around a person to help fend off all the emotional attacks they are sure to encounter in life. Though I have no empirical, scientific date for this, it has been my experience that the average person needs 7 to 9 affirmations and encouragements to counter just one negative or critical comment. So encouragers have our work cut out for us.
The world is full of discouragers. People who feel disheartened and discouraged themselves and don’t want to be alone in their downtrodden-ness. People who are so insecure that they only way they can build themselves up is to tear others down. People who don’t know how to encourage because they’ve never been encouraged. (This is yet another reason to be an encourager. You model it for others and hope they catch on and do the same.)
So don’t skimp on the encouragement. Be a lavish and extravagant encourager. Want to make the world a better place? You can do it one encouraging word at a time.