Empowerment definition: The process of gaining freedom and power to do what you want to do, or control what happens to you (Cambridge Dictionary).
We all need to feel a sense of control over what happens to us. We also need time to experiment, take risks, and learn from our mistakes. This gives us the confidence (empowerment) to try new things, adapt our behaviour, self regulate, be independent, and cope with difficult situations. There is age cross-over when it comes to instilling empowerment within our kids, so this week I will put toddlers/preschoolers/youth together.
Positive Parenting Strategies re: Toddlers/Preschoolers/Youth
-Offer choices, respect their choice. Don’t offer it if they can’t have it
-Praise the process (effort) not the product if something didn’t turn out exactly as planned -- -Listen to your child/youth, this way they will know that they are important and valued
-Read their verbal & non-verbal language
-Teach them about personal boundaries. A child/youth educated about body-safety, are less likely to become a victim of sexual abuse
-Allow your child/youth to take risks (developmentally appropriate). They need to explore new things, climb trees, and meet new people!
-Try not to focus on their physical appearance. Use language such as brave, smart, creative, determined etc.
-Before leaving them, or when they go to bed, tell them something positive about themselves. Eventually they start to believe it!
-Encourage them to follow their interests. Even if they change daily or weekly, one day this may lead to skill development, friendships, confidence etc.
-Allow them to choose how they greet others. They may prefer high-fives over hugging. This shows them that their boundaries are important and should be respected
-Encourage perseverance, resilience, and integrity. Life is not easy but we should encourage our children/youth to keep trying until they succeed or come close to it, and model these traits by keeping your word, speak respectfully of others, do your best, and cope appropriately with daily challenges
-Encourage perseverance, resilience, and integrity. Life is not easy but we should encourage our children/youth to keep trying until they succeed or come close to it -Encourage and model these traits by keeping your word, speak respectfully of others, do your best, and cope appropriately with daily challenges
-Believe in your children that they will make the right decisions. If they don’t, they will suffer natural consequences and learn from their mistakes (if the situation needs discipline, look back to the Behaviour Tips blog titles "Discipline")
-Let go of your expectations. We cannot understand what it is like to live in another person’s shoes, and if a child/youth seldom lives up to adults expectations, they will stop trying
-Allow them to do things for themselves. That may simply be washing their own hands, taking off training-wheels, writing their name, or for youths: cooking, academics, doing oil changes etc.
-Promote problem-solving and praise their ideas
-Lastly, use empowering, future-focused language that focuses on moving on, what to-do, possibilities, and you-can-do-it’s!
Reference: Psychology Today & Empowering Children (Shipley, 3rd ed. 2002).