5 Ways to Encourage a Child Who Struggles

encouraging children

When my husband was little he had a hard time in school. He struggled, and that struggle led to a number of insecurities. Fortunately, while he was still young his parents discovered he had dyslexia. His parents worked with him to correct the problem, but he was still left with a low self-esteem. After years of encouragement, he was able to heal from the early pain of those struggles.

It’s not easy being a child who has a difficult time or hasn’t found his niche. It’s even tougher when a child thinks he’s found his niche, but then he’s not successful or he has a sibling who’s a natural. Encouraging children goes a long way in helping kids reach their potential. If you have children who struggle, here are 5 ways to encourage them.

1. Praise little steps and tiny victories.

For the child who struggles, try not to constantly treat them like an improvement project. Instead, focus on what they’re doing right, and well. Even if it’s something small, praise that effort. And remember that research shows that children have greater improvement in academic efforts when they feel like the key to success is hard work, not innate intelligence.

2. Praise their efforts.

My daughter recently ran for elected office in her fifth-grade class. She didn’t win, but my husband and I made sure she knew how great we thought it was that she even got up and gave a speech to run for the office! Neither he nor I would’ve had the courage to do that when we were her age. So praise your child for trying, for going out of her comfort zone, and for not giving up.

3. Look for alternatives.

Bob Costas is a great sports announcer, but he would likely not make it as a professional athlete. If you have a child who loves something, but they don’t seem cut out for it, look for other ways they can get involved with their passion.

4. Love them for who they are.

Even a child who isn’t stellar in a particular area does have a gift that no one else has – being themselves. Be sure your child knows you love him for just being your son. Zero in on what makes your child special without his even trying – his great laugh, his kind heart, his thick head of hair!

5. Listen and comfort.

Be ready to listen to your child as they open up about their disappointment and heartache. If they’ll let you, hug them and hold them close. Tell them you love them, then do something they’ll enjoy.


Tell us! How do you encourage your children?