Children who learn to stand on their own two feet have parents who empower them to do so. We always want to foster independence in our children in a way that states to them, overtly and covertly, that they are capable of handling life effectively and successfully. When we have loving and high expectations for our children, they will naturally live up to what is expected of them, and often go far beyond. In kind, if we enable our children they will live down to our covert messages that we do not believe they can handle their lives, and they won't. We are their guides and leaders.
Steps to Empowering Your Children:
1. Problem solving: Children who are entrusted with a reasonable amount of responsibility to figure out and solve their problems bounce back with more resilience when they experience a setback. They learn the most from their mistakes by modeling us, as their parents, and how we take action when we experience setbacks. In other words, the parents do it and the children learn from it. It comes from modeling on one hand, but not solely. Self-sufficient children come from parents who empower their children to work through life's difficulties.
2. Positive Parenting: Our parenting must be inspiring and encouraging. Many try and motivate their children through not believing in them, hoping to create a fighter who will rebel and succeed. Even if some children succeed under this model, they usually do so with low self-worth. Children who feel supported an empowered can think for themselves. They show insight into the long-term consequences of the decisions and they are confident and able to take risk.
3. Transfer of Power: In order to empower our children, we have to allow them to have the power to make their own decisions. We need to let go and give them the room to learn, make mistakes and also to succeed and experience the rewards of their choices. Although we transfer power over to them, we can still remain in a supportive, loving and coaching role for them to return to if they need guidance.
4. Guiding When Things Get Tough: When our children fall down, this is not a time to criticize and critique. It is time to listen and give feedback. Always encourage them to see the bigger picture and lighten things up with humor and laughter. This way they don't see mistakes as fatal. Acknowledge their emotions, ask problem-solving questions and serve as a creative outlet for them to share in what can be done next.
5. Celebrate Good Decisions: When your children shine and are successful in their decisions, make sure to recognize and celebrate their independence and achievement. Help them to own these successes as their own. Savor these moments with them, as love is the greatest reward. Nothing feels better to a child than the acknowledgment of their goodness from their parents.
The End Result: When we parent to encourage, uplift, support and love unconditionally, we raise children who live with deep feelings of self-satisfaction and pride. Through positive parenting we supply our children with a feeling of well-being they will strive to keep on their own. They learn that happiness if a byproduct of achieving and we raise motivated, inspired, creative, self-aware, emotionally intelligent children. We will know the result of our parenting when we can look at the posture of our children and they are standing tall and firm in who they are.
Sherapy Advice: Parenting is a "togetherness" experience. Help your children believe in their own abilities to make decisions of all kinds. Believe in their capacity and let go of needing to be the one in control. Let them shine. Even their mistakes are beautiful because it is another opportunity for them to learn.
Sherrie is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.