How Can You Encourage Your Child Who’s Down?

You can encourage your child when they are down by being for them and walking with them. 

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24

I nearly missed the moment as I was making a beeline to my bed for that much looked-forward-to Sunday afternoon nap.

But then I caught sight of our teenage son sitting on the stairs with his head buried in his hands—an unusual posture that set off all my mothering alarms. It was so unlike this young man who is typically energetic, upbeat, and full of fun.

Something was wrong.

For just a second or two, I hesitated but decided that whatever was going on, it couldn’t wait. Not even for an hour or two.

I asked him what was wrong and got only a “nothing” for a reply, but we both knew that wasn’t true. Then I started playing the guessing game, “Is it this___?” Or, “Maybe it’s that___?”

He only shook his head. No, none of those things.

But I had a pretty good guess that it was a combination of circumstances that had stacked up over the past year—a myriad of disappointments, setbacks, and loneliness. Oh, how I wished I could fix it for him! I hate feeling helpless when it comes to my kids.

Well, at least he doesn’t have to be alone this afternoon, I told myself.

Then I invited him to join me upstairs in the “guest room”—even offering to share from my secret chocolate stash (true love, right there), while the rest of the family went off to quiet corners of their own.

I Am For You

Our son flopped his lanky body on top of the down comforter, clearly communicating he didn’t feel like talking or going deep with me (or anyone).

So I quietly prayed while he pretended to be asleep.

And during that time, I got the sense that, more than conversation, what he needed most was for me to be with him—better yet, to be for him.

After a silent but strangely sweet hour passed, I turned toward him and said with all sincerity, “Son, I realize this past year has been really tough on you, but I believe God has good things in store for you. You have so much going for you: you are kind, smart, funny, and wonderful to be around!”

He looked at me, then with that goofy half-grin of his, prompted, “Yeah, and what else?”

As in, bring it on.

And we both laughed.

Now honestly, none of these words should’ve surprised him. Anyone who knows him well would similarly describe him (I promise, not merely a mom-thing).

But he didn’t know. Or, at least, if he did, he had forgotten with the events of the past year.

He needed to hear those words, and he needed to hear them from someone who loves him. In this case, from me.

Maybe that Sunday afternoon didn’t change everything for our son, but those few words did make a noticeable difference. Even his father commented later that evening that there seemed to be a fresh bounce to his step.

So if you have a child (or even a spouse) who has been down and you haven’t known how you could help, here’s something you can try:

    • Look deep into their eyes and speak encouraging truth.
    • Remind them of those things you love and enjoy about them.
    • Whisper words of hope and beauty.

As parents, we might not have the power to change circumstances or fix broken relationships, but we do have the power of the spoken word. Don’t underestimate what God can do with your kind, encouraging, healing words in the heart of your child.

In His Word

“Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11

In Your Life

Do you have a child who is feeling discouraged or down? Struggling with their current situation, or maybe even in their relationship with you? For the next 10 days straight, purpose to speak a kind word and encourage your child.

Say them softly and sincerely, with no expected response. Offer your words as a gift of love. (Although you can silently pray that God uses them in a big way!)

We Recommend

Lisa is thrilled to share these parenting resources: 100 Ways to Love Your Son & 100 Ways to Love Your Daughter with you. These practical books give you 100 specific, actionable ideas you can implement to show love to your children, no matter what age they are. And the best part? The short, bite-sized readings make it easy to start right now!

COMING SOON: You can now pre-order these new releases: 100 Words of Affirmation Your Son Needs to Hear & 100 Words of Affirmation Your Daughter Needs to Hear!

Let’s Connect

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