Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What is encouragement?

Last night over dinner while we were watching "Little Bears", I asked Etienne what he thought the difference was between positive encouragement and setting realistic expectations. This was prompted by the episode where Little Bear wanted to fly to the moon and Mother Bear told him that he can't fly and is a fat bear cub who would probably fall with a thump. After I asked the question, before Etienne could answer, Laetitia piped up to ask, "Mummy, what is encouragement?". As I was in the middle of a conversation with Etienne, I did not reply her and she went "Mummy, please talk to me". :p

So, I turned to her and asked her if she wanted to know what encouragement meant. She said yes and that's where it got a little tough for me. How to explain encouragement in simple terms to a 2 1/2 year old. We told her that encouragement was giving support to someone when they want to do something. It was rather close to the dictionary definition I found however when we asked her if she understood what it meant, she shook her head (obviously mummy!). So Etienne and I tried to explain it in plain terms using our day to day life. For example when she wants to climb up a high play structure, we would tell her, of course you can do it (even before she tries). Or when she tries to complete a puzzle and tells me it's difficult and I tell her that I'm sure she can do it and she should try, that is encouragement. I think she got the gist of it. :)

I do feel like I've gone back to school to the times when I have to do comprehension exercises and part of the work was testing on vocabulary. We had to provide the definition of the words and it was not exactly easy even when I do know what the word meant. Then again, I am glad that Laetitia has an inquisitive mind to ask questions.

Back to the original question of positive encouragement vs setting realistic expectations. I personally feel that it is a hard act to balance the two. What is unrealistic to one may in turn be a possibility to other and I think at this point of time, I'll rather err on the side of providing more encouragement and being "unrealistic" then run the risk of crushing the dreams/aspiration of my child.

No comments: