As parents, we want to do everything within our power so that our kids grow up to be well-rounded individuals. Empowering our children from a young age using positive parenting techniques is more important than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertain times we are in. Fostering positive attitudes and creating a space where your children feel optimistic about the future rather than scared and apprehensive is key for their development.
It’s a scary thought, but children are incredibly malleable. They absorb information like a sponge, and our attitudes towards them can have a great effect on their development. A child that is told they are not worthy and a nuisance will believe that is what they are. Treating your children with respect through positive parenting will instil confidence in them, and allow them space to grow and feel supported throughout their development.
If we focus our parenting on empowering our children, we will create a generation of outstanding adults with a sense self-worth, good morals and ethics. By working to raise happy, healthy and optimistic children, we can ensure that they will also desire to create a good future for their children and the generations after.
It can be easy to get lost in the day-to-day of parenting throughout the pandemic, just trying to stay afloat amongst the madness and make it to the end of the day. That is why we have combined a list of 10 easy tips to empower your children. At first, a conscious effort is required to work towards a more positive and empowered household. But once you start implementing these tips, it will become second nature.
1) Give Your Child a Voice
Giving your child a voice is key to developing confident children. Encourage your child to choose and make decisions for themselves, even about small things. This could mean asking them to pick which cup to drink out of in the morning, or their outfit for the day. Asking them what they would like will inspire them to develop opinions. They will begin to think about what they prefer, becoming more emotionally in-tune with their feelings. Show them you support their decision making.
2) Discourage Prejudice and Gender Stereotyping
Discourage prejudice and gender stereotyping by encouraging your children to believe that they can be and achieve anything they desire. Actively dismantle common stereotypes such as girls wear pink and boys don’t cry. Encourage boys to show their emotions rather than bottle them up.
Be aware of the attitudes you have towards people from different walks of life, as this will be absorbed into the behaviours of your children. Have open conversations with your children about what gender stereotypes are, and why they are harmful.
3) Explain Yourself
Rather than simply telling your child to do something, explain the motives behind your actions. Giving them the ‘why’ behind your requests will help them to develop a sense of right and wrong.
For example, if your child says something offensive, calmly explain to them why they shouldn’t say that in the future. Tell your child that they should be mindful of their words, because what they just said could have the power to upset another person. This will do more for them in the long run than just telling them not to say it without giving a reason.
Keep in mind that your child may not understand exactly what they’re saying, or have harmful intent behind their words. Once they know that they could hurt another person by saying it, or why what they said is false, they are much more likely to refrain from saying it in the future, and think about their actions more. Explaining yourself calmly will show your child that you respect them, and empower them to do the right thing.
4) Listen and Engage
Rather than talking to your children while doing another task, try and take some time to sit down with them and talk to them every day. Ask them about their day and engage with them throughout the conversation. Asking them questions, for example, why they liked something or didn’t, will encourage them to form opinions and make them feel validated.
Listen to what they say, and if they express any strong opinions about liking or disliking any things or people in particular. If your child expresses a particularly strong dislike, it could be an indicator of a wrongdoing, or in the worst-case scenario, a form of child abuse. Make sure you regularly check in with your children and engage with them.
5) Teach Them About Diversity
To ensure your children grow up celebrating peoples differences, it is important to teach them about diversity. Openly respecting and actively celebrating people from different walks of life will show your children that we are all humans, and encourage them not to bully.
Make sure to have open conversations about peoples differences with your children from a young age. Educating your children about religion, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, and disabilities will teach them not to prejudice, and celebrate our differences rather than reject them.
6) Trust and Support Them
Trust your children that they will make the right decisions. Supporting them is an essential part of positive parenting. For example, allow them to explore and take risks, to swim a length of the pool while you swim at a distance, or to roller-skate without holding your hand.
Children learn by doing, and allowing them to try something while letting them know you will be watching from a distance in case they need your help will show them that you trust them, increasing their confidence in themselves.
Encouraging your children to explore different interests is fundamental in their development. Just because you always dreamt of having a child who loves art does not mean they’ll be artistically inclined. Support them with their passions, and shed expectations of behaviour.
7) Create a Positive Environment
Be mindful of the language and phrasing you use when you’re around your children, as they absorb more of it than you think. Try to frame things positively. For example, rather than shouting “stop running in the house” at your child, take a breath, and calmly say “please could you walk in the house because I don’t want you to get hurt. If you like, we can go and run around the garden”. Framing your words positively will soon turn into a habit, and transfer to your kids.
Try to use positive words when talking to or around your children. Use descriptive words such as strong, caring, smart and talented to reinforce good behaviours. Show them that you focus on their talents and abilities rather than their physical appearance. Remember that your words bare weight, and what is said can’t be unsaid. Children have an incredibly good memory!
8) Consider a Rewards System
Make sure to use positive reinforcement and adequately reward your children for good behaviours. Develop a system, for example, a star chart or similar, where you can display their rewards. This will encourage confidence and self-worth in your children, and show them that you are proud of them.
Notice the little things that your children do, such as getting a good grade on a school test, or even when they clean their dishes or tidy their room without you asking. Celebrate these behaviours, and treat them with rewards such as 30 minutes of TV time or choosing an activity to do on the weekend.
9) Encourage Emotion
Encourage your children to display their emotions is key to them developing emotional maturity. Make a special effort to tell boys that it is ok to cry and show emotions.
Teach them about consent from a young age. Rather than encouraging them to hug each other or adult family members, ask them if they want to. Explain to them that it’s ok to not want to, and that you respect their boundaries. Having conversations about inappropriate touching will allow them to develop a sense of right and wrong, and stress the importance of consent. Moreover, conversations about consent contribute to child abuse prevention.
10) Encourage Perseverance
Teach your children that it is ok to fail, but that it is important to get back up and try again. Explain to them that they do not always have to be the best at something. But if they want to, they have to try hard.
It can be tough when children come from different socio-economic backgrounds, as one child might not have access to the same resources and opportunities as another. Instil confidence in your child’s abilities by telling them that they can achieve anything they put their mind to. It might be a good idea to educate them on successful peoples trials and tribulations as they relate to your child, and how they overcame hardships to prosper eventually. This will encourage them to be proactive and motivated.
Raising empowered children through using these positive parenting techniques is important to create a future of bright and well-rounded adults.
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