Within my professional career, I am in constant contact with children. Most often, children are vibrant self-assured human beings that display limited need for self-actualization, like adults do. But sometimes like all individuals, children may struggle with facilitating self-empowerment.
Children have responsibilities and expectation much like adults do at work, school or in the home environment. A continuous checklist of completing homework, having good grades, displaying good behavior and so forth..are always expected by the parents, and carried by children. Quite frankly, the pressure to excel adds inexplicable weight that at times children are not able to handle, nor accomplish at their fullest potential. At this stage, the emergence of self-doubt and lack of self-empowerment can begin to set in. For children, the thought of disappointing their parents or not measuring up to their peers (socially, physically or cognitively) can be hard to deal with.
I can give you many instances where I witnessed this thought process beginning to show within children. A example that comes to mind was at a private school I used to work for. Like most, automatically when you think “private”, you think of money, privileged and affluent; and for the most part this observation would be true. To be above the norm of one’s own competitive nature; and the drive from parent’s and oneself to push for exceptional education (and sometimes sports) is pushed, drilled and expected. This in turns, adds great expectation on children; now they are in competition with their peers (because of course at this developmental age competing with others is a must :/ ) but unbeknownst to them they are in competition with themselves and society.
When these challenges get the best of them, behaviors that don’t reflect the child’s personality will begin to emerge. For instance: drop in grades, change in behavior, changes in social circles, lack of communication, self-doubt, lack of self-regulation, etc…
As parents, reflecting on your own expectation for your child(ren) is a great start in combating the onset of negative behavior. Next, providing encouraging words and realistic expectations while accepting and learning from their setbacks can provide children with the necessary tools to be more self-empowered and okay with who they are.
Below are some helpful times to help encourage your child’s self-empowerment and good behavior:
Be the foundation of child self-empowerment, so that they can build upon what was already established for them.
Bria Sledge is a project assistant at NCSU in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences. Bria recently received her master’s degree in Liberal Studies and a certificate in Family Life Coaching at NC State. Bria loves working with children and works everyday to improve the lives of children and their families.