As parents and caregivers, we want to do all we can to provide for our children, take care of them, and ensure their comfort and happiness. It is as much our responsibility to enable them to develop into confident, self assured, and resilient adults.
In this article, we speak about why it is important for children to be independent and what it means for them to be empowered. We also share our top tips on how to empower your child from a young age.
What does it really mean to empower children?
Empowering a child means nurturing and guiding the child in a way that encourages in them self belief and self confidence. If a child begins to believe in his or her abilities, they can manifest a life that they want.
When we give the right tools to children, they can explore their potential for growth. They will then be able to tap into their inner strength when faced with challenges. This also means overcoming their limiting beliefs and developing faith in themselves and their dreams.
To empower children, in that sense, is building a strong foundation for children so they can succeed. It is helping them believe that they are powerful.
The good news is that empowerment is a learned skill. We can teach it to our kids.
Why is it Important to Encourage Children to be Independent?
We see the first signs of children leaning towards independence when they say or show that they would like to do something by themselves. Here are some reasons why it is important to encourage children to move this way.
- It promotes perseverance and motivates kids towards taking action
- It makes the child feel that they have control over their lives
- It creates a sense in a child that they are important
- It makes them understand the importance of doing the right thing, which cultivates in them self awareness and sensitivity towards others
- It fosters in them the spirit of self motivation
- It helps them develop into resilient teenagers by instilling in them the belief that they can take care of themselves
- It helps them develop the belief that they are competent and capable
- It teaches them decision making
- It develops in them qualities like patience, self discipline, focus, and cooperation.
- It allows them to make mistakes and, by doing that, learn important life lessons
- It gives them a feeling of achievement
Top Tips to Empower children
Here are our most helpful tips to empower children so they can develop into strong, confident, and resilient adults.
Start by listening
As adults, often our first reaction to a child’s problems is to offer solutions. We want them to be happy and comfortable.
Instead, what we can try doing is listening to them without acting on our urge to solve problems. Whether it is about an unhappy event in the day, a friendship they are struggling with, or a habit they seem to have picked up, offer them your complete attention.
You can even ask them further questions about why they feel frustrated, sad, or angry. When a child feels that he or she can trust you with their feelings, it will be immensely comforting for them.
Simply by listening, you will indirectly provide them the comfort of not feeling alone and developing the confidence that they can handle whatever is happening in their lives.
Allow them to make choices
It is incredibly empowering for a child to feel that they have choice. Allowing them to make decisions, even if they are as small as deciding their own outfits, choosing between an orange t- shirt and a striped t-shirt, or opting for a blue or green toothbrush, is a great way to empower kids.
Decision making does wonders for a child’s self esteem. They feel that they are have control over things. When a child’s voice is heard, they begin to feel capable of making bigger decisions.
Teach your child body safety
We cannot be with our children all the time to watch over them, which is a scary thought. It is therefore vital that they learn about body safety in their early years.
Children can develop an incredible sense of discomfort if they are not taught about what it means to be touched appropriately. The awareness of what is appropriate touch and the courage to speak about it with parents are important traits to prevent sexual abuse.
This also cultivates in them the ability to set healthy boundaries from a young school age.
Focus on early childhood education
A child educated in different skills becomes confident about their abilities. While primary schools take care of academic education, you can teach your child life skills.
Encourage your child to participate in small chores in the house, like making their bed or watering the plants. This will instill in them a sense of responsibility and cooperation. They will feel part of a larger whole.
Also encourage your child’s interests. This will boost their creativity and enable them to explore different parts of their personality.
Make them become comfortable with taking up space
Children who are shy or withdrawn might feel uncomfortable with being seen. The idea of what a good life should be is continually reinforced by media’s continual bombardment of what other children look like and do.
Encourage kids to become comfortable with their bodies by practicing taking up space.
One of the ways to do this is use the pirate stance. Make your child stand with their legs slightly apart and their hands on their hips. Shoulders are slightly pulled back and down.
Standing in this stance for about a minute or so can be wonderfully empowering.
Discourage gender stereotyping
You will have to lead by example. Use words wisely when speaking with or in front of children about other people.
Children are great observers and they absorb what we say and do very quickly. If a child is told that she cannot play football because girls are not good at it, it will affect the way she things about her capabilities.
A child is a blank slate. Gender stereotyping can limit their growth and potentials because they will always feel bound by what is accepted they can or cannot do.
Use positive words
If a child experiences criticism or control, it can cause them to develop a strong belief about their ineptness. Lack of self belief is something that many young people struggle with.
When you use positive words to talk to a child, even if it is about something they did not do so well, it leaves them with positive thoughts. They can feel motivated rather than discouraged.
Avoid any strong remarks on a child’s physical appearance. Rather, shift the focus from how they look to their skills and talents.
You can also teach them some positive affirmations for kids for increasing self esteem and cultivating self love.
Allow them to set personal boundaries
We often ask our kids to hug or kiss while greeting relatives. If you sense that your child is uncomfortable with a certain person, respect their decision to maintain distance.
While it is important for children to form respectful relationships with others, it is equally important to give your child choice. Only if your child hugs or kisses willingly is it ok to expect them of it when meeting someone. If they would rather prefer a hand shake, they should have the choice to do so.
Allow your child to take risks. Let them struggle with solving a problem rather than doing it for them.
When you give a child the time and space to sit with something, they are more likely to not give up when faced with challenges. The struggle will teach them important lessons about the value of perseverance in this world, which is an empowering thing.
The ability to feel gratitude and look at the bright side is one of the most helpful traits to build in a child.
You can make this a fun activity by asking your child to write down their accomplishments from the day and things they were grateful for on small notes. They can drop these notes into a happiness jar and pull them out to read them when feeling low.
By feeling joy and a sense of self worth in daily life, they will grow into kids who are well adjusted in the world and empowered to be their best selves.