Empowerment means to have the ability to make decisions, stand on one's values and principles, and face challenges with confidence. While that sounds like a rather hefty life lesson for a preschooler, you can start with simple lessons now and watch your child blossom into that strong young person right before your eyes. She'll be running for congress and effecting change before you know it!
In order for your youngster to feel empowered and act accordingly, he has to believe in himself. That's where you come in! Each day presents a multitude of opportunities to help your child develop that confidence. Praise him when he does a good job, present him with opportunities to try new things and help him develop new skills. When you hang his artwork on the fridge, it tells him he's done well and you're proud. When you clap as he zips up his coat or ties his shoes for the first time, you bolster his confidence in himself even more. When he feels confident in himself, he'll be more inclined to do the right thing, stand up for himself and others, and face challenges head-on.
Lead by Example
Children often learn through modeling; from infancy, your kiddo's been watching and mimicking your actions to learn about herself and the world around her. So, your example, and the example of other significant caregivers, in your youngster's life are going to help determine her understanding of empowerment. The positive action you take to work through challenges and always give your best effort are going to teach your child to do the same. Conversely, if you over-exaggerate the confidence you have in yourself, your little watcher will pick up on the signals. If you're working on your own self-confidence, that's okay -- just be honest about where you are as you progress.
Now that he's watching you demonstrate empowering behavior, give him some other examples he can relate to with stories that are geared to help your youngster learn about self-esteem, confidence and empowerment. Books about the values that you'd like him to develop, such as honesty, integrity and respect, will help to further his understanding and internalize the message. If you don't have any story books handy, that's okay. Instead, tell her stories about his favorite person instead -- you!
Maintain Empowerment-Friendly Environments
Children are curious beings and in an everyday environment, probably spend a fair amount of time hearing, "Don't touch that “leave that alone," "put that down," and "I'll do that for you." These are all terms that discourage exploration, self-discovery and empowerment. You want your youngster to be more familiar with phrases, like "go ahead and try that out," "you can touch that" and "see what you can do with that." It may be difficult to make the entire home empowerment-friendly, but try to designate an area that is catered as much as possible to this concept. If you have a playroom in the basement, make sure it has child-friendly furniture, all of the electrical plugs are covered and all of the toys and other items in the room are safe for her to explore.
- The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children; Dr. Shefali Tsabary
- Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings; Kenneth R. Ginsburg
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