Parents and educators, it's never too early to empower children. You might ask, what does an empowered child look like? The answer is simple.
A youngster who believes she or he is in charge of their destiny and has control over their future success.
Naturally young children don't internally articulate in this manner. However, if as parents and educators we create a living and learning environment that encourages fearless exploration, kids develop the self-confidence needed to deal with all life brings their way.
Providing a developmental culture that promotes empowerment doesn't just "happen."
Yes, we continually strive to be excellent parents and teachers who try to communicate in a positive self-affirming manner. We can read to our children every night, provide a safe and nurturing classroom environment and always look to reinforce the positive.
But for a child to feel truly empowered they must encounter situations that help them develop the ability to test their own strength -- to succeed or fail -- knowing that no matter what they are accepted, not judged and loved!
This isn't always an easy scenario, particularly if you are experiencing stress and worry in your own life.
"During the 1960-2016 period, the percentage of children living with only their mother nearly tripled from 8 to 23 percent and the percentage of children living with only their father increased from 1 to 4 percent. The percentage of children not living with any parent increased slightly from 3 to 4 percent." (U.S. Census Bureau, Release Number: CB16-192 - November 16, 2016)
Raising kids in a two-parent household is difficult, and so much more so when one caregiver is absent.
Parents, you may think you have it rough -- but consider the average teacher with class sizes ranging from an average of 18 to 34 students depending upon geographic location.
As a teacher years ago, I remember a parent complaining that she didn't know what to do with the upcoming holidays. "All three kids will be home together," she complained.
Teachers are responsible for imparting vast academic knowledge while creating an atmosphere that fosters the development of well-rounded human beings. All with the impending stress of standardized tests that evaluate the child, teacher and school.
It's not easy to create the ideal environment that optimizes and complements the innate energy and optimism of youth. But it's so important to make sure that we are providing youngsters with every possible opportunity for the development of a positive and emotionally healthy self-image.
What can you do? Parents, be aware. Think about your communication style. The tone of voice used when you speak to your child. Look at ways to create positive moments that will help your child's self-esteem. Ask yourself if you are making your child comfortable and secure or stressed and nervous.
Make a special effort to bring humor into family life. Don't take things too seriously. Laughter is truly a potent preventive medicine.