My boys are all a little shy. Especially, when it’s their time to shine. There is nothing more embarrassing to my oldest son than hearing his parents yell from the side lines. And I get it, I remember that awkward feeling I often felt when my parents would hollar to me during my swim meets-and I had my head under the water most the time. It doesn’t matter if the comments are positive or negative in nature, there’s just something about hearing your name yelled that can really frustrate or shame a sensitive child. But sometimes he needs a little cheer. And sometimes I selfishly need the reassurance that comes from offering a little encouragement. That’s why I came up with a simple way to remind him how awesome he is without saying a single word. This method to encourage kids silently is called, “two thumbs up.”
It’s a simple concept, but the effects have been pretty profound. Before any major event, whether it be a sport, a performance, a presentation, or a test I remind my boys to get two thumbs up. If I notice my son start to slip in whatever he is performing I hold two thumbs up in the air until he notices. That’s it. That’s all I need to do, because he already knows what those two thumbs represent.
Encourage Kids Without A Word
What Is “Two Thumbs Up”
Two thumbs up is, well, exactly that. Just two thumbs up in the air. The first stands for “try your best”. And the second is “have fun”. Because really, if your child can do those two things she will succeed. Win or lose, pass or fail, if she gives her best effort and enjoys what she is doing that’s all that matters.
How “Two Thumbs Up” Works
This two thumbs up thing is a three step process. The first step is the pre-show. This is when you explain what two thumbs up mean, or if your child is familiar with the concept this is the time to remind her to focus on getting two thumbs up. The second step is game-time. During this time you use those two thumbs of yours to nonverbally offer encouragement, reassurance, & inspiration to your child during their performance. The third step is the after-event. This is your time to reflect and recap.
At the end of his event we always hold a little post-mortem. I ask him if he got two thumbs up. He holds up his hands & rates his performance. Sometimes both thumbs are straight up which means he did his best & had a lot of fun. Sometimes one or both thumbs will be angled a little meaning there was room to improve. (Fortunately, we haven’t had any thumbs down experiences, yet.) This is his opportunity to reflect on what he did well and what he could do better. I let him judge since it really isn’t possible for me to determine his effort or enjoyment.
There really isn’t much to it. In fact, it seems almost too simple to be effective. But give it a try and you’ll see just how much your two thumbs can encourage kids. Do you have a fun way you encourage your kids? Tell me about it!
Communicating with our children is vital and doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few more ideas to help get our kids talking to us!