Empowerment is an important skill to establish with ALL children to help them believe in their knowledge, capabilities and opinions. Check out our six suggestions to help your child feel empowered without feeling too much like a boss or wallflower!
Ask your child’s opinion during conversation
With our busy lives it can be easy to glaze over when your child is telling a story and then respond with remarks like “uh huh” and “yeah”. Make an effort to use a “tell me more” and “how does this make you feel?” approach to conversation. When children are asked their opinion, they often times have many thoughts and opinions to share. Being asked to share opinions and to elaborate on stories helps children feel valued during conversation. This can lead to children speaking up for what they believe is right and wrong.
Let your child explore options
You’re walking into a restaurant and your child begins to touch everything in sight and walk around to check out the surroundings. Instead of saying, “just sit still”, “don’t touch that”, “stop doing that”, allow your child to make choices. This doesn’t mean to let your child go wild or to ignore the possibility of your child being hurt. Sometimes it is best for a child to see and understand consequences of an action. Most people learn best from experience not from verbal statements. For example, if your child wants to spend all allowance on one toy instead of saving for the big one, don’t say “Do not do that! It’s a poor decision.”, just let the child do so and process the decision. This technique cannot be used constantly, as children need guidance, just pepper it in when appropriate times arise.
Ask for their help
Children adore being ask for help. Embrace the young years because children come running to help cook, help with a task, and be part of a project. Make your child feel needed and that their knowledge and creativity is valued when completing the task. It can be fun to “play naive” and let your child take the reins for a bit. Try it out and you’ll be amazed at what your child is capable of doing!
Give them something to care for
Supplying your child with the responsibility of taking care of something can allow the child to watch their success grow. Great ways to start are with a plant or garden or family pet. Even a little goldfish can make your child feel in charge of something!
Don’t try to make everything perfect
As a parent you want your child’s world to be rainbows and butterflies, but imperfection can actually help a child to understand consequences of choices and actions. When a speed bump arises, let it ride out to see how your child handles the situation. We often become too involved too quickly and do not give our children the chance to act upon scenarios themselves.
Let your child have “alone time” and to select an activity of choice. This helps the child to feel independent and in charge of their interests and ideas. Allowing your child to try their interest is important. We would all love our children to partake in our past or current interests, but children can gain great happiness and sense of pride from selecting their own and participating in them.