Social Skills Series #9: Encouraging Each Other

I have a new favourite phrase, a catchphrase that has become popular among young people in recent years. It’s just three short words, but, as you all know, three words can pack a punch.

My new favourite phrase is, “You got this.”

We offer a lot of exciting learning opportunities at Phoenix, and our students are often given chances to do something challenging. I, for one, don’t hesitate to put kids on the spot in class by asking them to read something out loud, play a short rhythm or passage, or voice an idea in front of their peers. I do my best to encourage young people, but what truly makes me proud is when I see young people encourage each other.

 

Music Club, introduced in the 2017-18 school year, was a great opportunity to get kids making music with each other and for each other. Every week the story was the same: someone got put on the spot to share a song, or to improvise, or to repeat a challenging rhythm, and the chorus of “You got this” would begin. And got it they did. This they got indeed. That one powerful catchphrase, or “catchpraise,” if you will, reminded them that they had faced many challenges before, and had everything they needed, including the support of their peers, to succeed.

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By building each other up with praise and support, my Music Club kids were exhibiting prosocial behaviour. Psychologists define prosocial behaviour as voluntary behaviour for the benefit of others, which would include donating, volunteering, helping without being asked, and, of course, offering verbal encouragement. In younger children, prosocial behavior might include sharing materials and toys, taking turns, saying “please” and “thank you,” and beginning to empathize with others.

When your children exhibit prosocial behavior, acknowledge it. Remind them that they’re contributing positively to their community. If you think they need encouragement to behave more prosocially, remind them that helping others can make us feel good. Get them to start small by giving someone a compliment, or saying “you got this” to someone who is performing a difficult task. How does giving verbal encouragement make your child feel? How else would they like to offer help and support to the people around them?