Back to articles Hidden Sources of Discouragement: Are You Overdoing It?

Categories: Parenting

Is your encouraging, discouraging?

I have been thinking a lot on the common mistakes people make when they try to encourage their discouraged children. One such mistake is “overdoing it”. If your discouraged son Ethan is the one in the family you can never get to clean up and help out and do his share then when he does pitch in you jump all over him panting with positive comments like:

“wow - Ethan - thanks a lot for taking your plate to the kitchen!!!! That was really a BIG help - I REALLY appreciate it - Awesome!”

Yes, those are all encouraging comments but the subtext message heard between the lines by the child can be:

“wow - Ethan - you usually don’t do what is required or asked of you so I am just flabbergasted and ecstatic that you could do something that is expected of others in this family - I really didn’t think you had it in you !!!”

Often one the most encouraging actions you can do to encourage a discouraged child is simply to treat them as you would anyone else. Now THAT feels good!


Alyson Schäfer is a psychotherapist, parent coach, popular public speaker and host of "The Parenting Show" Rogers Television.. She teaches parent education classes and works with parents one-on-one in her parent coaching practice. For more information on Alyson, please visit her website at