Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Empowering Your Child:How to Use Everyday Moments to Teach Essential Character-Building Themes


By: Kristan Kostur and Susan Lurz

Imagine a world where children feel free to be themselves; where they’re content and love who they are, where they feel like they belong and are accepted by others, and have the confidence to try to achieve their goals.

For many children this is a foreign concept. In today’s world, our children are faced with many demands and stresses which can leave them feeling alienated from their family and friends, confused by their developing emotions, and overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt.

The good news is—there is hope. Because you are your child’s guiding influence, you can provide him or her with the necessary skills to confront and overcome difficult challenges. You can help your child lay an empowering foundation on which he or she can grow strong and succeed in school and beyond.

So how do you begin to lay this empowering foundation? The first step is to recognize everyday opportunities where you can take advantage of teachable empowering moments. And finding these moments are easier than you might think. At Proudtree Empowered Learning, we focus on 10 character-building themes essential for healthy social and emotional development. Below we address two of those themes and ways you can begin to incorporate them in everyday experiences.

Making Choices: When you give children opportunities to plan and make choices, you’ll begin to see them gain a sense of control and confidence. You can support your child’s choice-making skills by involving him or her in appropriate family decisions, or by teaching safe and healthy choices such as wearing a bike helmet or choosing healthy snack options, or by offering choices during daily routines such as asking, “Would you like to brush your teeth before or after taking a bath?” It’s important to limit the number of choices—the fewer the better, and to offer small, manageable choices based on your child’s ability.

Recognizing Emotions: Your child’s ability to understand and recognize emotions plays an important role in his or her overall development. Children benefit when adults help them make sense of their feelings and learn to communicate them in a safe and effective way. A fun way to explore recognizing emotions with children is by reading storybooks together and asking them to point out the different types of emotions they recognize in the characters. You can even ask them to imitate the characters’ facial expressions for the different emotions and name a time when they have felt that emotion.

These are just a few ways to incorporate essential character-building themes into everyday moments to help children develop a sense of purpose and value. And by simply creating these positive and nurturing learning opportunities, you impact how children come to view themselves as powerful!

What are some of the ways you support your child’s choice-making skills and ability to recognize emotions?

To learn more about additional character-building themes, visit us at proudtree.com.

About the Authors: Kristan Kostur and Susan Lurz are the founders of Proudtree Empowered Learning, an educational company dedicated to developing unique materials and programs to help instill in children a sense of personal competence and internal worth—attributes which help them learn to expect success for themselves in school and beyond.

30 comments :

  1. I have been pretty lucky in terms of choosiness when it comes to food with my kids.. its the hair and clothing that have been issues. I just keep thinking.. choose my battles... some are just not worth it. ;)

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    1. Yes, as a parent you do really need to pick your battles. But it is so good that you've been lucky when it comes to nutrition!

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  2. My daughter does this with my grandson. She lets him pick the veggies and fruits he wants to eat.

    I wish I would have thought of this when I was raising my kids. I had the hardest time getting them to eat their veggies.

    Great post ladies!

    Cori

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    1. Thank you! Choices make the world of a difference!

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  3. These are such great tips. I really need to incorporate choices more into our everyday routines. It seems like a great way to get them involved and want to do the task.

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    1. And you make the choices between things that you are OK with ;)

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  4. I use the choice option with my kids all the time. It is so helpful! I still get to keep them on schedule, but they feel more empowered to have a say.

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    1. Go you! It is so hard to stick to a schedule but some kids do much better when they have the same routine everyday.

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  5. WOW, this is so useful! I am going to be working as a supervisor in summer camp next year, I will most definitely use this ;)

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    1. Awesome! Please feel free to contact us at www.proudtree.com or www.choosykids.com for other great resources!

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  6. This is important information! I think social and emotional skills are as important or more important than the content information we teach them in school.

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    1. 100% agree. They need to learn about themselves too!!

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  7. Haim Ginott's book "Between Parent and Child" is one I tried to model my parenting on, insofar as recognizing kids' emotions and helping them label them and talk about them.

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    1. Great book! Thank you for sharing the title with us!

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  8. I totally agree. Children need that emotional support in their development and to bring out their own personalities.

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    1. Yes...and they all have different personalities so different methods will work for different kids.

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  9. This is some really good advice. Our 12 year old has a lot of anger issues right now and my husband does exactly that. He has her work through what she's feeling and think about her actions and any potential consequences to them. Sometimes it falls on deaf ears but sometimes it really does seem to sink in.

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    1. 12 is a really hard age no matter any specific circumstances. Whether 2, 12 or 25, some choices won't fly with anyone and that is when the situation gets tough like you said.

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  10. I love this. I always tell my kids I am training them to make their own choices. I try to let them make as many as they can, and the older they get, the more choices they'll get to make. I also agree that it is critical to help them identify what they are feeling so they can learn how to manage it. Great article!

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    1. You are very right. And as they get older they'll have to make those choices on their own so you are setting them up to be good decision makers.

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  11. I'm always trying to be conscious of equipping my kids to make their own decisions. Sometimes it takes a lot longer than I'd like to process the outcome, but it's well worth it to encourage their independence.

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    1. Oh yes...the every day battle of what shirt to wear can take 10 minutes in our house. But she gets 2 choices...both are fine with me!

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  12. I think it's great to give children choices and reinforce independence. I am lucky that my little loves to have chats with me and we are always talking about feelings and how to cope with the different ways he's feeling. As an older parent, I want my son to learn to be independent and be empowered for when I am no longer around.

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    1. Those chats are probably really special to both of you. Keep up the open communication because you know as they get older it will be harder to get their feelings out.

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  13. Teaching children how to recognize and identify their emotions is so important to their emotional well-being. I love reading books with my kids and talking about the characters and what emotions they might be experiencing. Now that we have watched Disney's Inside Out we also use that movie to talk about feelings and how to manage them.

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  14. Awesome tips! What you teach them now will have a huge impact on the person they become in the future. My husband is not the best at showing emotions. No doubt attributed to how he was raised. It was always very important for me to work with my kids to nurture their emotional development. They are now teenagers and while my daughter is very open about her feelings, I feel that my son holds a lot back. Not as much as his dad, but I am certain that my husband rubbed off on him somewhat. I am so glad that you are bringing light to this topic!

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  15. Great post! This is something I always try to do with my son. I feel it's very important! Thanks for sharing!

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  16. I agree. I allow my children to make decisions (the small ones), because I realized how annoying it is when my husband always asks me "what do you want to do, where do you want to go, etc.". Someone else in the household should have an opinion (when it comes to the small things), lol. It's nice to hear the way their young minds work and the reason for their decisions.

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  17. My son is two years old. I have noticed that he is starting to want to make his own decisions so I have been letting him make small ones. Like what kind of juice does he want to drink or what kind of snack does he want. He loves it! I can see it all over his face that it makes him feel like such a big boy!

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  18. I really like this post. There is way to much stress put on young children for them to handle.

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