Helping Children Find Their Voices – Tips for Teachers and Tips for Parents

It was so heartening to learn from the 2,000 children, ages 6-12, who were questioned through the Highlights State of the Kid survey. They said they feel like parents and teachers really listen to them and care about what they have to say. But how do we help our children use that voice in healthy and giving ways?

Here are three simple ideas for parents…

  1. Give your children something to care about.

Kids said they want to reach out and help others when they see pain and suffering. Give them the opportunity! Service starts at home so be sure that your children are contributing to your household in developmentally appropriate ways. Then, in addition, notice what issue they are concerned about or they mention needs help. Follow up and serve together. How can your family serve the needs of a shut-in neighbor or a homeless community member? Take small steps together and build empathy by reflecting on the interaction and the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that occurred because of it.

For tips on caring for your household as a family team, check out Involving Our Kids in Household Responsibilities — At Each Age and Stage.

For tips on how to take simple actions to serve your community as a family, check out Citizen Kid or How Do We Cultivate Compassion in our Kids?

2. Start each day with a loving connection. 

This is the time of year when schedules get chaotic. We can fall into the trap of rushing our children to get ready and flying out of the house in the morning. It only takes mere minutes to focus on your child, to notice what he/she is feeling, and to share a hug or loving connection. If you do, you can leave each other knowing that you’ve done your best to prepare your child’s mind for a successful day of learning at school. And by the way, you’ll also set yourself up with a grateful mindset for your work day to come! 

Want to create a smooth morning routine that’s collaborative? Check out this video short! 

Why are hugs so important for our kids each day? Check out the research connection. Deepening Parent-Child Relationships through Loving Touch

3. Embrace what your child loves.

How do you follow your child’s curiosity? How do you follow their passions – particularly when you don’t necessarily share those passions? Listening and noticing is an important place to begin! My partner and I don’t know the first thing about fishing but when my son expressed a genuine interest, we discovered a summer camp and also, set up time throughout the year with his Grandfather to nurture that passion. Take steps into that unknown passion and you and your family can learn together by pursuing your child’s desires. 

For more, check out this article on time spent out of school entitled The Extras.

And for teachers, Confident Parents, Confident Kids’ partnered with Highlights to create this printable fact sheet: 3 Research-based Strategies for Helping your Students Find Their Voice.

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