Encourage vs. Enforce vs. Engage: Which To Use When Dealing With Kids

Encourage vs. Enforce vs. Engage

You never really know if you’ve been a good parent until your kids are all grown up. That’s little consolation now as you’re trying to navigate this minefield known as raising children, especially when you’re doing it alone. Online and offline, one thing is for sure, our kids need us, and we need them too.

It can be tricky to decide which mode you need to be in to help your children grow into their own individual selves as they move toward adulthood. You want them to gain experiences, yet you want to spare them from the things you did when you were young. And now with the internet and social media, the things that could have been posted about us back in the day make any parent go pale, and we become instantly grateful these things didn’t exist back then.


Encouraging your child is almost always the right way. We say “almost” because there are some things you shouldn’t cheer on, like underage drinking or negative behavior. Otherwise, encourage that creative spirit. Encourage them to explore. Encourage them to reach for more and more as they learn and grow. Encouragement is good and can really be the tipping point when they become frustrated with themselves. When you motivate them with encouragement, it can help them get through the last mile.


Perhaps your child is fully encouraged though. Perhaps the problem is that they’re so busy with drama class and prepping for the school play that they keep coming home after curfew. It’s important though to enforce the rules you’ve established. Don’t have rules? You’d better sit down together and create them. Always involve your children in the process of making rules. Make sure they know what is acceptable and what isn’t, and make certain they know the consequences for breaking those rules. Enforcing them might be a drag, but it shows your children that you’re serious. Really, they’re seeking your approval, so if you stick to your guns, your kids will understand you love them.


Engaging is something that you must do both in the real world and online. Don’t stalk or spy on them, but do engage with them about music, sports, hobbies, and those sorts of things. Build a strong and healthy bond. Get to know them, and create a dialogue so that they feel easy about coming to you. When you listen to what they say, even with seemingly minute things, they will feel comfortable coming to you about those big things. Engaging is essential for staying connected to your child, even when you both put down your devices.

Using a bit of encouragement, enforcement, and engagement can help boost your relationship with your children. Give it a try!