It seems like there’s a new holiday popping up all the time these days, but I believe this one is worthy of our attention. September 12th is the National Day of Encouragement.
It began with some high school students in Searcy, AR, in June of 2007. They decided that at the root of most problems, such as drugs and alcohol, lies discouragement. Their suggested solution was to have a day where everyone focuses on encouraging one another. They are encouraging kids and adults around the country to get together and find ways to encourage other people around them. More about the holiday.
Here at the National Center for Fathering, I take my role as CEO—that’s Chief Encouragement Officer—very seriously. And I believe we fathers can be a huge positive influence in our children’s lives—more than any of us probably realize—through simple words and acts of encouragement. We should all lead our families by example in this area; “Chief Encouragement Officer” should be right at the top of all our fathering job descriptions.
Years ago it came to me that if you push a person down by being negative or constantly degrading or belittling them, then you end up going down with them. Pushing others down takes you down. But in the same way, as you push another person up, you go up. You stretch your arms up, your face looks up, and you go with the person you’re elevating. It’s a simple concept: life will go better and people will be healthier if we focus on the positive.
Encouragement is one of the greatest strengths we can bring to our families, because we fathers have the power to instill confidence and hope and life. On the other hand, we can also discourage family members easily by being over-critical or too distant.
For many of us, encouragement doesn’t come naturally; it really takes some intentionality. Our positive comments to our children need to outweigh the negative by six or seven to one. We need to watch and expect them to do something good, so we can praise and encourage them instead of always looking for ways to correct them.
Jot down some notes about each of your family members: positive character traits, gifts and abilities, recent acts of kindness, etc. Having those in your mind will help you carry out the next action point …
Tell each of your family members one thing about them that you admire or appreciate. Make sure to do this at least once during the next two days.
Pay careful attention to how you talk to your children—not only the words but also tone and volume. Make every effort to be positive, and avoid being even mildly sarcastic or degrading.
When your child shows fear or struggles with a certain endeavor, take some extra time to work one-on-one with your child on that challenge. Or simply do something together that he or she enjoys.
Commit yourself to leave family members weekly “encouragrams”—short, positive written messages to brighten their day.