Help your child take productive and confident steps toward their adult life. The type of environment they live in and the influences they grow up with are critical. These 10 tips will help you support and encourage them.
By Bianca Pang
1. Support their dreams
Even when they are at a young age, ask your child to think about what they like to do and what they would like to be when they grow up. Remind them that anything is possible. Take note of the activities that make them particularly happy and continue to give them positive feedback. What stimulates them? What are they naturally drawn to? It also helps to share your dreams as well. Encourage them to build on their passions, but don’t push too hard and create stress.
2. Support risk-taking
Fostering an optimistic environment builds confidence. Always give positive feedback, and let them know that failure is okay and part of the learning process. Part of building self-confidence is helping them to reach out of their ordinary comfort zone, and ensuring that they feel good about their journey. If they want to try a new sport or a fundraising walk, praise their willingness to try. They will feel stronger about making decisions and taking risks in the future when you do this. It will help with socialization as well.
3. Teach them to be social
Help them mingle. Teach them to embrace and accept others for their unique abilities. Introduce the idea of sharing and of participating in conversations. Set up play dates to practise. Start with one-on-one activities and gradually progress to larger groups. You can also teach kids icebreaker questions they can ask others when they meet.
4. Insist on good manners
Practise courteous, polite behaviour with your youngster. They look to you as a primary role model and will mirror the things you do. Simple niceties—such as saying please, thank you, you’re welcome, I’m sorry, excuse me—can go a long way. Make sure your kids know how to ask for things politely. Help them understand the purpose of manners, and why it’s important to show kindness, compassion and respect when interacting with people. These simple life skills will take them a long way.
5. Encourage new activities
Encourage your child to explore and choose a variety of activities. Kids gain confidence and self-esteem from selecting things they are invested in themselves. Between the ages of six and 12, children need opportunities to test things out in order to develop their individuality. Whether they like—or don’t like—the idea of a certain program or lesson, suggest a trial time period. Some interests involve years of commitment, so tell your child that you will pay for lessons for three months and at the end of that period, you can re-evaluate together.
6. Help with homework
Lay out your expectations before problems arise. Homework assignments are crucial for doing well in the classroom. Practising at home for tests, and reviewing past lessons, helps build toward understanding future lessons. Remember and make note of your youngster’s strong and weak points from the previous year, and work with them to help them improve. Teach them in a way that caters to their learning abilities. For example, if your child is a visual learner, use pictures and diagrams to illustrate an idea. Ask the teacher to explain the assignment if you’re unsure. And remember not to over-help and end up completing the assignment yourself.
7. Prepare for tests
Request the monthly schedule from the homeroom teacher, so you know schedules ahead of time. Post the calendar in a visible place such as the fridge or front door. Be sure to remind your child to bring home textbooks or review materials a week before the test day. You can also communicate this with teachers through a simple note or email.
8. Help with literacy
Reading with your child each day is an effective way to instill proper grammar and new vocabulary. Read together every night, taking turns. Act out the story together, and ask your child to predict the ending, or even come up with their own conclusion. Literacy can come in different forms, such as audio and visual. There are countless apps and “word-of-the-week” ideas to slowly expand your child’s vocabulary.
9. Teach optimism
Guide kids to see the glass as half full. This protects them from future disappointments and teaches them to have a more positive outlook. Make a game of looking at the silver lining in difficult situations, and avoid using negative labels. When they are frustrated or discouraged, acknowledge their feelings and talk to them about it. Any time a child can recover from a bad experience, it’s a lesson learned.
10. Encourage them to make a difference
Teaching children to do things for others instills an attitude of gratitude. Selflessness will help them feel good as well. Look up local volunteering opportunities in your community and participate with your child; you could try out different jobs each year. Depending on your child’s age and abilities, the possibilities for helping others are endless, and so are the rewards.
Bianca Pang, BA, BEd, has worked as a primary/junior teacher and holds additional qualifications in special education and visual arts.