girl having fun on swing in the Philippines

Supporting the development of strong, resilient and empowered children is every parent’s goal. To get there, parents need to teach their children the skills necessary to succeed and build on their ability to be independent. 

When children are empowered, they feel the courage and confidence to try new things and take on tasks. Empowering your child is providing them with an inner sense that they are powerful and capable. Empowerment and resiliency go hand in hand with a child learning to be successful in life. However, empowerment takes work and intention. Parents should start by being mindful and purposeful about their interactions with their child, and the desired outcomes. Be intentional about skills your child may need to make good decisions, be successful in school and develop strong healthy relationships.  

It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.

Ann Landers

 7 Practical Ways to Support and Empower Your Child

1. Provide for their basic needs. Regular food and hydration every few hours can enhance a child’s ability to stay emotionally regulated. 

2. Provide encouragement. This literally means to put courage into your child! Use your words to build them up. Put them in situations where they can succeed!   

3. Be realistic. Children build confidence and resiliency through failing sometimes. Embrace failure as a learning opportunity and avoid saying things that may make them feel better in the moment, but won’t hold true over time. Instead, try phrases that encourage conversation. For example, “What did you learn from this?”. 

little girl with Down syndrome laughing with parents

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4. Listen to them. It is easy to get into the habit of speaking at our children, and not really putting extra effort into exploring their thoughts, ideas and feelings. Be present with them, take away distractions and give them your full attention. This will send the message to your child that they are important and have valuable things to say.  

5. Speak positively about them. Words have power. What they hear you say about them will have long-lasting effects. Try not to criticize or label them. If we say that Sam is mean, Ella is shy or Grace isn’t good at spelling, they internalize these traits and come to believe that about themselves. Speak to what they are working on positively. Sam is working on being nice, Ella is working on making better eye contact, Grace is great at math and is working on her spelling. Also, praise the effort and not necessarily the outcome. Approval should not be tied to success.  

6. Provide choices. Sometimes as parents it’s easy to make all of the decisions for a child. Let them make decisions that directly relate to them. Allow them to choose the blue shirt or orange shirt. Give them meal options. When the time comes for you have to make a decision, letting them know the reasoning behind it is powerful for a child. They’re able to understand the logic behind the request. For example, “Because I’m the mom” is not a helpful answer. Relinquishing appropriate control during certain ages and stages promotes healthy growth.   

7. Encourage autonomy. It’s often much faster to do tasks ourselves as parents rather than wait for our child to do them. Tying shoes, making their bed, creating a meal and many other life skills are the beginning stages for a child developing independence. When a child tries something new and takes a risk, be encouraging. If they fail, help them learn from their mistake and try again. These moments develop resiliency and perseverance.    

Above all, by empowering your child through these methods, you support the growth of an independent and resilient child.

adoptive parents receiving parent counseling with their adopted child

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All parents encounter challenges as their children grow up. And sometimes, issues may arise that leave you uncertain as to how best to respond. But not every issue requires therapy or counseling. The PACE program is here to help during those times.

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