Our kids are sponges. They are soaking up information all the time, and they are looking to us to help navigate all of the information. They are picking up tidbits from family, siblings, friends, TV and even us – because little ears are everywhere. Rather than letting them piece together information they hear in their day-to-day lives all by themselves, I believe we should have open and continuous conversations about important topics they are experiencing. This is very different from the way I grew up, where children were to be seen not heard. I believe we should uplift our children and teach them how to use their voices to stand up for themselves, others, and for what they believe in. Let’s prepare them for the real world vs. protect them.
Why is it important to start the conversations early?
- Builds self-esteem
- Helps them handle conflict
- Builds trust
- Creates better relationship between parent and child
- Helps with problem solving
So where do we begin, parents?
- Be honest: When my daughter asks me a hard question, I always reply truthfully, even if it’s to say “I don’t have the answer, let me get back to you.”
- Identify opportunities to take action: I find current events and break them down into teachable moments in age-appropriate bites. Here are some examples of teachable moments we have explored in our house: voting, giving back, learning about a new culture.
- Share your experiences as a parent and as a family: Both my husband and I come from immigrants, and this shaped our childhood and who we are, thus, who she is.
- Rethink your questions: This is a huge one!
- Did you help someone today?
- How do you feel today?
- Did you make a mistake? What did you learn from it?
The reality is, our children have the power to change the world for the better. Let’s set them up with the knowledge and tools to start today because REAL change starts with REAL conversation.