While the exact words of that conversation have blurred with time, I remember the moment well. This frustration she felt when trying to encourage her son at soccer while all around him accolades were being handed out like free samples. Encouragement versus praise is often part of the game. We all want to support our kids, but at what cost do we misuse our intention?
Praise is great when it has been earned as it offers external validation, something that in the end must ultimately come from within. I try to think of praise as floating cherries that occasionally land on the ice cream. These add flavor to who I am but they do not define me, nor should they define our children.
Encouragement is specific. Encouragement is holding the space for growth and success. Encouragement affirms that you are always trophy worthy, but you will get there on your own merits, in your own time and by your own efforts. Encouragement says I believe in you.