Thank you LEGO® Juniors for sponsoring this post. Looking for creative play ideas that will both challenge and inspire your 4-7 year old? Please visit https://www.lego.com/juniors
“Mom! Come see!” my four year old begged me, pulling me into the playroom where his latest creation teetered precariously. His evident pride made me smile.
“Great job!” formed on my lips, then faded… What made it “great”? Although his childish invention took no recognizable shape and had no clear purpose to me, yet I felt there was something “great” about it. My child had invited me to share a moment of achievement with him, and I just needed to find the right words.
My pause too long for his patience, my son tapped me on the arm, “Mom! Do you like it!?”
I knelt down to inspect further, drawing him close, “Darling, I love it! And you know what I love best?” I had his full attention now! “I love how you used your imagination to create this!”
His face just glowed. So worth the extra seconds to find the right words.
Everyday Wins: Statements that Build a Child’s Confidence
These moments when our children invite us into their world, mamas (and papas!) are worth our consideration. Worth finding the right words to encourage creativity and build a child’s confidence through play.
I’ve been working harder these days at the “Name it” strategy – declaring specifically what about my child’s efforts is “great” instead of letting “Good job!” and “Great work!” become a catch-all.
I had the chance this week to break out some new LEGO Juniors sets with the boys. LEGO toys are perfect for parent-child play time, and for highlighting all the small wins children achieve through play!
As we played together I focused on all the ways I could specifically support their play. Here are some statements that build a child’s confidence and celebrate those “everyday wins” with our children.
Encourage independence: “You did that all by yourself!”
What I love about LEGO Juniors sets is how they are designed with pre-made pieces to help kids start playing immediately and independently. The LEGO Juniors Police Helicopter Chase set has a two-piece helicopter body that my son gravitated to as soon as the package was opened! The success he found in snapping together the first few pieces, encouraged him to keep going. Whenever he’d stop to show me his progress, I’d let him know how exciting it was to see him “doing it by himself!”
Develop a Never-Give-Up Spirit: “You’re really sticking with this project! That takes a lot of patience” or “Wow, you are really working hard!”
The larger starter pieces of the LEGO Junior sets gets kids going. We parents can encourage our children to reach the “big finish” when they complete a project!
With the larger LEGO Juniors Family House set, the pieces are divided into four packages, so my son could pick which segment to build first. This provides an opportunity to break the build project into chunks, and take a break to celebrate their efforts.
Create Confidence: “Can you show me how to build this part?”
Kids love to show grown ups how to do things! In our LEGO play, I ask my boys questions about where something belongs, how to build it, what they’ll use it for. The more I know about their play and plans, the more I can find and celebrate those everyday wins with them!
Encouraging children to help each other also builds a child’s confidence. When my younger son couldn’t figure a step out, and asked for my help, I’d often say, “I bet your brother could help you with that!” My oldest son looked like he would float through the ceiling on that cloud of praise! I had confidence he could help his little brother, and it gave him great confidence too!
Compliment inventiveness: “I’m amazed by how you’re using your imagination!”
The LEGO Juniors sets provide directions for builds, yet there’s also plenty of room for inventive play. My son thought the yellow bricks of the Family House looked like butter! He said he was building a house out of butter (I think he was remembering the butter carving at the fair last month!). I thought it was such a funny idea, and we started talking about what it would be like to live in a house made of butter! A hilarious and inventive conversation for sure, and one I never would have thought of myself.
So many other phrases can take the place of “That’s great” or “Nice Job!” Here’s a few more:
- I see you put a lot of detail into your project.
- You’ve were a big helper to your sister/brother.
- You’re learning to follow directions really well, aren’t you?
- That was a tough one, but you did it! You never gave up!
Growing our children’s independence and confidence
An important part of parenting is to walk alongside our children, support them, and celebrate everyday wins. I think of the quote, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” I want my children’s inner voices to say: “I’m creative. I can figure out problems. I can finish the job. I can help others!” I love seeing the light in my boys’ eyes when I recognize their daily achievements with carefully chosen words.
Small challenges and built-in everyday wins with LEGO Juniors play sets are matched so well to this stage of growth and independence. Now we can match our words to celebrate everyday wins as well!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.