Empower Your Children To Make Good Decisions
by Caron B. Goode, Ed. D.
Lawrence J. Greene, author of Helping Your Child Make Wise Decisions, says children solve problems, bounce back from setbacks, and learn from mistakes by following their parents' actions. Parents do it and children learn it.
Yet, that implies kids always mimic their parents' actions. I disagree. Children will learn to stand on their own if parents know how to empower them.
My book Nurture Your Child's Gift (Beyond Words Publishing) stresses that the goal of parenthood is "to foster self-empowerment within young ones over time." Children who feel empowered:
· Think for themselves.
· Understand the long-term consequences of their actions.
· Feel good about themselves.
How can you empower them to make good decisions for their lives?
Transfer of Power
Although parents make all decision for their infants, they eventually transfer their decision-making power through the choices they encourage their kids to make. This "transfer of power" happens in two stages:
1. Belief stage: Through observation and trial and error, parents begin to believe in the child's ability to make choices. For example, when pre-teens are given a 10 p.m. curfew, do they stretch out the rules and come in late? Or do they consistently return home at the agreed-upon time? Parents observe these behaviors and form beliefs about their child's ability to make choices.
2. Allowing stage: Parents allow and encourage their children to make certain decisions. In the example above, parents whose pre-teens come home on time will let them set their own curfew in the future.
As a parent, you and your child will both benefit by doing these things:
· Encourage humor and laughter
· Acknowledge feelings
· Ask questions
· Share empowered moments
· Talk through the steps to solutions
Encouraging humor and laughter
Nurture good humor by using phrases like:
· Gee, you have a great sense of humor.
· I like the way you laugh at things.
· I'm glad you don't take life too seriously.
Kids learn discernment when they feel safe to express feelings. You help when you encourage them to move through fear rather than letting fears freeze their actions.
Keep in mind these two words: recognize and respect. That means remember to recognize the feelings your children experience and respect them as genuine. This validates what they feel without sympathizing, correcting, or judging them. Also use music and deep breathing as ways to help them get calm.
One day while in the grocery store, I watched a thirty-something mother take her three-year-old daughter shopping up and down the aisles. I observed how she gave her daughter feedback while they shopped. When something caught the girl's eye, she would ask to see it. The mother gave it to her and briefly explained what it was. She would ask her mother: "Is it good for me?" "Is there sugar in it?" "Will Daddy like it?" I noticed they didn't purchase things with sugar and saw how the little girl took delight in getting something for her father.
By having freedom to make decisions (and mistakes) about her food, this little girl learned a lot from a simple shopping trip. I admire the mother for empowering her daughter to choose at such an early age.
Sharing empowered moments
Actively teach your child to honor the moments of empowerment as they experience them. Cheer when your children make a great game play. Savor the moment when they show you high grades by giving hugs. When they've done a good job, show them how to cherish special moments by saying, "Close your eyes and remember this event. It is one of the great ones."
Most important, look into your child's eyes with sincerity when you say, "I love you."
Talking through the steps to solutions
Annie Haleakala, a teacher and a mother of thirteen children, helps her students and children solve problems by asking, "What is the first step?" Annie stays with the child until she hears an answer. Then she asks, "What is the next step?" Annie believes children know what to do; they just need help and encouragement to take the appropriate action.
The outcome? Feelings of pride
Don't buy into the belief that children only mimic their parents' actions. Empowered parents and children both know that's not a given.
Instead, feel proud seeing your own children stand tall. I certainly have. At my daughter's wedding rehearsal dinner, she gave an eloquent speech of gratitude to her families and friends. Afterward, my sister whispered to me, "My niece is wonderful. How did she get to be so insightful?" This question triggered memories of times when my daughter made mistakes, felt unloved, didn't get high grades, and so on. We always talked through the traumatic events and tried to see the viewpoints of people involved. Together, we handled each situation with respect and reflection. I helped her believe in her own ability to make good decisions. She has made me feel proud.
Copyright Caron B. Goode, Ed.D.
Nurture Your Child's Gift: Inspired Parenting
This book reveals a revolutionary approach to helping childeren acheive personal success. It addresses the frightening issues surrounding children and offers valuable insights in how we can assist children "to reach their full potential, make their unique contribution to society, and find satisfaction fulfillment and joy in life." Order the book from www.inspiredparenting.net
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