A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of empowering kids. I spoke about the meaning of empowerment and why it is important for us, as parents, to empower our children.
But merely knowing what empowerment is, and its importance, is not enough. We actually need to take action. We need to really do something about empowering our kids. And we want to, only we don’t really know how to go about it. You see, being a parent, though a privilege, is definitely not something that we can learn from a handbook. Nor are there any degrees that qualify us to become parents. There are no courses that can prepare us for this amazing, beautiful journey. In fact, we are all trainees when it comes to this very responsible, satisfying job in the world. A job where we learn on-the-go. Where everyone has a different experience and learns different things, at a different pace.
We do read up and try and learn as much as we can, as we go, but in most cases, what influences us most as parents are our own parents and childhood experiences. But of course, some of us parents take clues from our children too. We change/adapt our parenting ways to something that will be in sync with what our children need. As parents, we understand that children too should have a say in the way we treat them, or decide their things. We realize that even though children are young, they too have a mind of their own; and the earlier we accept and understand this, the easier is the parenting experience for parents and children alike. For parents who understand this, and are willing to put in the efforts, here are a few ways in which we can go about empowering kids.
Harness the child’s uniqueness
Each child is unique. And in every child, this uniqueness manifests in different ways. It could be that a child is more sensitive than his peers or that he is good at craft or drawing. She may read more books or could be a good singer or even an orator. Sometimes, it could also be something as simple as a child being left-handed while all the other children in his class are right handed! And to most parents, their children are special because of their distinctiveness.
However, not all parents who love their children for their uniqueness, always really pass on this positive attitude to their children. This can be problematic for children, who would find it difficult to adjust to the fact that they are ‘different’ from their peers; and this plays in their minds. It can cause a lot of damage if other children actually end up saying something to them to that effect.
This is where it is important that parents make it a point to make the children understand that being different is sometimes actually good. Children need to accept themselves as they are and make the most of their strengths. Once parents give this confidence to children, it is only a matter of time before children will learn to harness their uniqueness and soar when the time comes!
Encourage the child by believing in him or her
It is a very special feeling to know that someone believes in us. Failure and adversity can visit anyone, anytime – even children – and it is this belief that someone else places in us, that helps us. It inspires us to work doubly hard to achieve our goals, because now we are not only working on our own, but with the backing of someone else’s belief. This belief acts as the wind beneath our wings!
It is the same with children. No matter how difficult the task facing a child, or how huge the obstacle in his path, the faith that parents show in him/her can work wonders for a child! When parents place trust in children, it sends out a very positive message to the child. And children, armed with this knowledge, can do wonders, overcome obstacles, tackle the most difficult problems, and give everything their best shot!
Provide positive reinforcement
The power of positive thinking is infinite. Adults and children alike thrive on a positive attitude. A positive frame of mind ensures that we think of only constructive outcomes. We do not get bogged down by the possibility of failure. The fact is, anything once begun can always go either way. It can be a success or it could fail to take off. But the actual success or failure of any project has a lot to do with the frame of mind of the person involved.
This is especially true for children. At a young, impressionable age, children are ready to believe what they are presented with. The best gift we can give them is a positive frame of mind. A positive frame of mind, developed at a young age, goes a long way in shaping a positive personality for children. It is very important for adults to teach children to look at the positive side of any situation, however bad it may be. This takes some time to learn and to get used to. But once one has gotten used to it, there is nothing like a positive frame of mind to ensure that one succeeds in one’s ventures at all times.
Help them cope with failures
Failure and success are two sides of the same coin. And despite a positive frame of mind, a lot of hard work that we put in, and all that we try and do to achieve success in a certain venture, failure, is still a possibility that we cannot ignore. This is something most adults understand (although, not all take it well). It is extremely difficult for children to understand, accept, and endure failures. Failure is something children need to be taught to take in their stride.
And who better than parents to help them with this? Imagine a child who comes to us, telling us he has failed. He/she is already thinking of all that they have done wrong. It is also playing on their mind as to what the parent’s reactions is going to be. They fail to learn what might have gone wrong and how to avoid such mistakes in the future. It is our job as parents to show our children the silver lining. We should help them accept the fact that they have failed. They should learn to move on and try harder for the next time.
Applaud their efforts, drive and determination
Success is as much an outcome of the actual results. It depends on the determination and the hard work that has gone into a project. Sometimes, even where a project fails, it is important to take a pragmatic view and applaud the efforts that have gone into it. This is especially true for anything that our children do.
Think of it this way. If we were to do something and fail at it, what do we do? Don’t we take solace in the fact that we put in our best possible efforts? Wouldn’t we be keen on taking a re-look at what went wrong? We’d want to learn from our mistakes and move on, rather than harping on the fact that we didn’t succeed. So then why not do the same with our children? Appreciate their efforts, applaud their determination, and encourage them to learn from their mistakes and work harder next time.