Once upon a time children were people with a very little awareness of the world, living in their own cocoon, away from the harsh glare if real life and the world of grown-ups. Not any longer. Today there’s no space in a kid’s life for dreams that begin with ‘When I grow up, I want to…’. Kids these days are much more aware of what goes on around them than we ever were as kids. They’re tuned into the world and its many happenings. Take the instance of the twelve-year-old girl who’s taking the world by storm with her speech. (You can watch the video here.) It is thus important that we, as parents, respect their opinions and tell them that they matter. After all, character traits such as confidence and honesty are best learnt at home.
Here, we talk about a few ways to teach your kids to speak their mind
1. Speak YOUR Mind
Never shy away for expressing exactly what you feel. This is all the more important in joint families, where we may be silent in order to protect relationships. Kids learn best from what we do, and not from what we tell them to do. A child who grows up seeing people keep quiet about their true feelings will grow up to hide his own. Make home a safe haven to talk about anything and everything.
2. Discuss Things With The Child
Talk about daily happenings. Once kids go to school, they come home with many experiences. Ask for your child’s opinion on those experiences. Open-ended questions such as ‘what did you think about the punishment?’ or ‘what did you think of X’s behaviour?’ will give you an insight into the child’s budding thought process.
3. Nurture A Relationship Based On Equality
Treat your children as your friends. It is extremely difficult to view someone you’ve birthed and nurtured since childhood as an equal, but kids today are growing up faster than ever and they expect to be taken seriously. Sometimes, a nonchalant comment made when we’re busy can have them retreating into a shell. Know that in a fast paced world, there will always be things that we don’t know but our kids do. The grace with which we accept that makes all the difference.
4. Always Listen
Science says that kids start tuning into our responses from the age of two. While they’re still in their diapers, they’re trying to understand how the world reacts to them! Listening to them when they try to talk is the best thing we can ever do for them. This shows kids from a very young age that their views matter and that they’ll always be heard.
5. Expose Them To The Opinions Of Other Children
Having opinions is a two-way street and there’s no better way to learn that lesson than to allow kids to have debates. Yes, these may often turn into fights, but the experience also teaches them that people are different and can have different beliefs and yet coexist. Going forward, this paves the way for healthy adults who take the time out to listen to other people and their ideas.