Encouragement means to stimulate initiative and positive actions. Teachers, counselors, and parents are asked to encourage children to do their best by acknowledging their efforts and strengths. However, when children do not feel good about themselves or their situation, they need to be reminded of ways they can encourage themselves and each other.
Ask children for examples of thoughts that help them feel better when they are unhappy. Explain that helpful thoughts are called positive “self-talk” and that adults often use this as a way to cope with their problems. List the children’s ideas on the board.
Some examples are:
- I am a good person no matter what anyone does or says.
- It is okay to make mistakes because everyone does.
- I do not give up; I keep trying.
- I think about what is good in my life.
- Everyone feels good and bad, now and then.
- I can do it!
- Money cannot buy happiness.
- How I act is more important than how I look.
- I am lovable.
- When I smile, I feel better.
- I can do many things well.
- I cannot control what grown-ups do.
- I am unique, one of a kind.
- When I feel sad, I think of things I like about myself.
- Each new day brings a chance to do better.
- I think about my choices and then choose what is best for me.
- I will change what I can and accept what I cannot change.
- I treat others the way I want to be treated.
- I cannot change my family; I can only change myself.
- What I learn today will help me in the future.
After making an extensive list, have the children choose a sentence that is meaningful to them. Ask them to make a picture or poster featuring their saying complete with illustrations. Have them prominently sign their creation. Then divide into small groups or pairs and have the children discuss their work. Caution the students to be respectful of each other’s ideas. Display the results in the classroom or in the hall to challenge ALL children to use positive “self-talk” that will encourage them to do their best.