The world children grow up in today is vastly different from the one many of us remember from our own childhoods. As parents today, we want more for our children than just academic and career success, we want them to believe in themselves, lead positive, purposeful, rewarding lives and grow to become the best possible version of themselves. However, with their schedules jam-packed with extracurricular activities, technology at their fingertips and a whole new breed of school bully, it is easy for a child to feel powerless in their own life. It's more important now than ever to empower children by giving them the tools they need to develop their own identity and the personal strength to achieve their goals and become their own role models for positive living.
1. Teach Your Child That Their Uniqueness Is Their Power
Starting from a young age, it is important to ingrain in your child that the things that make them different from others are their greatest assets. Encourage them to take pride in their individuality and continue to reinforce this idea as they get older so that they learn to celebrate the unique qualities in themselves and in others, instead of losing self-esteem.
2. Create a Drama-Free Zone
Children learn what is acceptable in society and what is not by observing the behaviors, actions and reactions of others. Set an example for your child by surrounding yourself with positive people and engaging in activities that give you energy, while avoiding people, activities and foods that drain your energy or negatively upset the balance in your life. Teaching your child the difference between positive and negative behavior early on creates an advantage by helping them identify positive and negative influences in their life as they get older. This allows the child to creatively establish boundaries that keep positive energy and intention in their life and keep drama out so that they can reach their greatest potential.
3. Talk About Online Safety
Technology can be a powerful learning tool for your child, however it can also be a window for bullies and predators to enter their life. As a parent, to protect your child you must be aware of all the ways your child is engaging with technology and monitor their communication with others on an ongoing and daily basis. Most parents are vigilant at first, but they often get too comfortable with their child's use of technology as time goes on, leaving their child vulnerable. While your child may not be causing any issues themselves, others may be infiltrating their online space. By teaching your child why they should not share photos of themselves online or why they should keep their location services turned off, you will not only protect your child, but also empower them to use technology safely to explore the possibilities of the digital world.
4. Address Overbooked Schedules
Make sure your kid has time to just be a kid. Respect your child's need for down time in between or after a jam-packed day of activities by building it into their daily routine. Encourage activities that allow your child to decompress -- whether it's free play, yoga, meditation or just taking a break from technology. This will teach your child to set aside that same type of time for themself when they start to manage their own schedule and will better equip them to handle stress as they get older.
5. Teach With Positive Reinforcement
Focusing on your child's positive behaviors and achievements and rewarding them with praise often breeds more positive behaviors and empowers them to make better choices while building their self-esteem. Reprimanding your child for negative behaviors may reduce negative behaviors, however it does not increase positive behaviors and can be damaging to the child's developing sense of inner confidence and strength. Serving as a mirror to reflect your child's positive actions, abilities and qualities helps them to see themself as valuable, talented and capable individuals. The way you teach your child to behave positively also sets an example for your child to teach their peers to treat them with respect and kindness.
Follow Jen Groover on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jengroover