As parents, we always want what’s best for our children, we want them to grow up feeling secure and instil a sense of confidence and self-worth. Think of it like planting a tree, we first start with planting a seed that needs consistent nurturing so that it turns into a sapling. Once it is a sapling, it needs to be watered regularly so that it has the best chance of surviving and becoming a well-established tree. The seed is like an infant, the sapling is like a child and the watering can be thought of as the way we foster confidence, joy, respect and resilience in our children so that they have the best chance of establishing themselves as well-adjusted adults that seek rewarding lives.
Importance of Empowering Children
- Facilitates perseverance and resilience in childhood and adulthood.
- Nurtures belief in themselves and their capabilities.
- Fosters self-confidence, this promotes children feeling comfortable with who they are which can lead them to trying new things and managing their own behaviour.
- Promotes independence – empowering children allows them to make decisions and choices from a younger age and teaches them that they have a voice that is valued.
- Develops self-compassion and self-respect – an empowered child understands that they have the ability to positively influence the world around them and this can lead to an increased respect and value for themselves and also others.
- Facilitates learning – an empowered child is more likely to engage with their environment, whether it be at home, in the company of others or in the classroom.
How to Empower Children?
Let your child know that you believe in them and their ability. Tell them that they are capable of achieving things that they set their mind to. If a child receives this type of information from a parent regularly, their perception of self-competence increases.
Give your child the ability to make choices
When a child is given choices and those choices are listened to and respected by their parents, the child is given voice and some agency over what related to them and their lives. These choices can start early on and can be a small as, what would you like for breakfast today, cereal or toast?
Help your child find solutions to problems by asking them questions
Sometimes when we provide advice to our children it can seem that it goes in one ear and out the other. This may be because we are providing the child with our solutions rather than teaching them how to create their own solutions. When helping a child to problem solve, ask them, “what have you already tried to do?” This question highlights the fact that the child is already putting effort into finding a solution to their problem.
Secondly ask them “what happened after you did this?” This question promotes self-reflection for your child and to consider the outcomes of their actions and whether they helped them or not. Finally, ask your child “what can you try next?”. This question encourages your child to continue trying to find a solution to the problem, it can promote creativity and perseverance.
It is common for children to sometimes respond to these questions with “I haven’t tried anything” and “I don’t know,” keep in mind that these are normal responses and to not get frustrated by them, rather, reframe these questions in a way that you think your child will be receptive and provide immediate positive reinforcement and encouragement when they demonstrate the ability to self-reflect and problem solve.