Empower Your Kids with the Skills to Stand Up for Themselves

empower your children

Productive, confident adults…that is what we all hope our kids will develop into. There are very specific strategies that increase the odds of making that hope all parents have a reality, so let’s dive in.

Communication with Confidence

Empowering children with the skills of effective listening, self-advocacy, standing up for themselves, and the ability to communicate their needs, are some of the critical communication tools they will need from the preschool classroom to the boardroom.

These are the foundation skills of leadership development and can even prevent your child from being the victim of bullying and abuse. You want your kids to be able to say “No” to other peers or adults who may attempt to harm them. Practice with them through role plays, and show them how to be assertive, ask for what they want, and listen carefully to what others are saying.

Productivity Skills and Self-Motivation

This is an area where today’s “helicopter parents” often struggle to adequately prepare their children for the future. Raising self-starters is hard when you’re in constant praise, motivate, and reward mode. For years, parents were encouraged to notice and applaud their kids’ accomplishments and we naturally want our kids to feel good about themselves so we were happy to oblige.

However, it’s important to let accomplishment be its own motivation and reward. Yes, kids love to be praised. However, encouraging their effort and perseverance will serve them more in the long run. Being a people pleaser as a teen and adult will not serve them well as they will end up making decisions based on what they think will gain them approval from others and a “pat on the back” instead of being clear about who they are and what they want.

Teaching kids how to be productive requires you to trust them to get things done and letting them know their contribution helps. Often as parents we “know” that we can do things faster and better than kids can do them. However, if you hover over them, continuously criticize, and end up doing it yourself, you don’t encourage mastery, you simply keep reinforcing that they aren’t capable and not good enough. Kids need to do things, imperfectly at first, and keep practicing until they acquire the important skills.

And, we couldn’t cover productivity without discussing the need for basic organizational skills. From letting your little ones clean up their messes and their rooms themselves to allowing your teens organize their schedules and their closets you’re facilitating their ability to develop skills they will use throughout their lives.

Financial Literacy                                           

This final skill is so key for mental health and well-being. Just look at the stress that money issues cause most adults. Here are a few ways to encourage healthy financial literacy skills.

  1. Talk about earning, investing, saving, and spending. Share age-appropriate information about your family’s expenses and income, giving them a sense of how much time it takes you to earn the money used for various expenses. Give them examples from their own piggy bank or allowance too.
  2. Give them a chance to learn for themselves. Start them early with a piggy bank and ways to earn a small allowance by helping out around the house do things beyond regular chores. Talk with them about how they are going to spend their money, how much they would like to save, and whether they would like to donate any money to charity. With older kids, set up a checking account and basic budget so they have financial experience long before the fly the nest.
  3. Model healthy financial choices. If you are stressed and fighting over money, you’re setting your children up to do the same someday. Don’t fall into the “do as I say, not as I do” trap. What you say AND what you do will contribute to their beliefs about money. All the subtle and not so subtle comments and actions are absorbed whether you want them to or not. Teach them what you really want them to believe.

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