When I was pregnant with my first child who is now 21-years-old, I read more than dozen parenting books. It wasn’t that helpful because many of the books contradicted each other. Finally, I just picked the one that fit my own parenting philosophy (i.e. co-sleeping) and I just went with Dr. Sears.
All the baby books made my head spin, so I decided to go with a very simple parenting philosophy of focusing on just a few things. I figured that if I picked the right ones, everything else would fall into place.
My three things were:
1) Self Confidence
3) Self Advocacy
How to Raise a Child to Be Self Confident
I have several posts on raising a self-confident child here and here. It’s one of those things that seems hard to do but it actually breaks down into something very simple and that is to really listen to your child because conveys the message that whatever he/she says is important. As a parent, you can start with your infant by simply picking up your baby whenever it cries.
A lot of issues that kids and teens face can be overcome or even avoided if your child is self-confident such as peer pressure, being bullied, and high-risk behaviors such as drugs and alcohol.
I also think that kids who are able to explore their talents also can draw self-confidence from knowing that they are good at extracurricular activities whether that is music, art, sports, or a foreign language.
I am also an advocate for having kids learn martial arts or other hand-to-hand combat because it teaches them self-defense as well as gives them confidence that they can handle aggressive behavior from others.
Self-confidence also comes from knowing who you are. My kids are 1/2 Korean American and 1/4 Chinese and Japanese American. Food is an easy way for my kids to explore their cultural heritage and to be proud of who they are.
Not only are they familiar with different foods from each culture, but they have favorite items that connect them to their grandparents and home countries. Food is such a wonderful bridge for so many things!
How to Raise A Child to Take Risks
I think trying new food is an excellent way to teach kids to take risks. It can be as easy as trying something that they don’t think they like — the food item or dish doesn’t even have to be exotic or strange. Trying new food is the gateway for your kids to become foodies which also has inherent benefits. My teenage daughter told me that she has a very healthy relationship with food because she’s a foodie. I also noticed that my teenagers used food excursions as their social activity on weekends.
Just getting a child to try new things including a new sport or activity is another way to demonstrate how taking a small risk can lead to opening new avenues.
How To Teach Your Child Self Advocacy
This actually was the easiest for us to teach our children because we started them when they were very young. We eat at Asian restaurants frequently and typically the place setting is chopsticks. If my kids wanted a fork, we simply told them to ask the waiter or waitress themselves when they returned to our table.
At first, our kids would want us to make the request for them, so we simply nudged them to do it themself. And, if you think about it, self-advocacy is really just standing up for yourself and expressing your own needs and requirements.
As our kids grew older, they were able to self-advocate in other areas such as asking a teacher for help with homework or presenting their case for why they should get a higher grade on a test. Coaches also appreciated when kids talk to them directly instead of a parent about issues such as playing-time.
Self-advocacy is also a skill that all kids will need when they head off to college.
It’s funny to realize that all three of the things that I wanted to teach my kids came from food – taking risks, self-advocacy, and being self-confident. Maybe this is why my kids are all foodies!
How about you? What is your parenting philosophy? Thanks for sharing!
p.s. Related posts:
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