Mingo is still 20 month old. Our friends came to visit us over the weekend. They have a three year old girl, Katie. We were visiting The Academy of Science in San Francisco two days ago. Mingo was attracted by the older kids climbing up and down the benches. He went to the bench and tried to climb up too. Well, the benches were bit too high for a 20 month old. He tried and tried and tried, but was not able to get to the surface of the bench. I was staring at him and wondering if he would give up trying soon. There came little Katie, who whispered at Mingo: Go Mingo. Guess what happened.
Mingo was suddenly filled with a burst of energy, and used his hands, arms, legs, core muscles, basically his whole body to get up to the bench with a glimpse of time. Mingo and Katie just met for less than a day. I was so astonished by the power of a simple encouragement statement. Katie was purely empathetic with Mingo's situation. She didn't presume anything. Her language was so simple, her heart was so pure, with no expectations that he had to get up there, or what so ever. It was just a friend, who saw her friend struggling, and wanted to cheer him up. Mingo must felt encouraged without being pushed, or pressured. That's probably why he acted so quickly without a moment of hesitation, or frustration. That's the power of real encouragement. Empathetic without presumptions.
We might want to ask ourselves, when we try to encourage our children, are we really empathetic with the children's own situation? Or do we try to put our agenda onto our kids?