The Elementary Years
Helping Children Know Themselves
Children in their early elementary years undergo much growth, both physically and mentally. Are you ready to help them develop emotionally as well?
Kids wonder who they are, what is special about them. They explore their interests, what they are good at, and how friendship works. They also try on different personality traits as if they were trying on hats. Here are four things you can do to help them.
1. Affirm the character traits that are praiseworthy.
Kids want to know they are loved and worthy of being loved. Whenever you can, point out the goodness you see in them, the kindness, sensitivity or bravery you see them display. This is particularly effective if you can "catch them in the act" in a positive way.
2. Assure them that mistakes are not character flaws.
Everyone makes mistakes. These slip-ups do not define us as people. But it can be hard for children to distinguish between an accident or mistake, whatever the degree, and a genuine propensity to do wrong. Assert that a bad decision does not define them, nor does it dictate the direction they must go in future behaviors and choices.
3. Help identify their conscience and how to heed it's voice.
There are a lot of temptations for children. Daily they must decide not to: cheat, lie, steal, or cause harm. If you can help your child listen for the leading of her conscience at an early age, it can have great impact on her as she matures and the temptations have much greater potential impact. Stealing a cookie is one thing, stealing a car is a whole other matter.
4. Speak words of identity over your children.
Parents have the power to guide their children's character development. Your words are vitally important. By calling out their identity for them, you help your children know who they are. If your child loves art, he is an artist. Say it. If your daughter loves sports, she is an athlete. Say it. But it is essential that we affirm those deeper and more important character traits we treasure about our kids, not what they do but who they are. If you have a gregarious daughter, tell her how much you appreciate her outgoing personality. If your son often has wise insights, affirm his thoughtfulness.
Rather than wait for our children to ask us, we can help them call their identity into existence.
Parents, your words are so vital in your child's development. Don't wait until their birthdays or special holidays to affirm your child. Speak words of encouragement and identity to them every week. They will treasure these statements, and draw on them in challenging times.
For some great insights, try these links:
- Home - Brené Brown
Authenticity, shame, empathy, vulnerability, courage, compassion, connection, these are all the focus of Dr. Brown's work. She will inspire you to greater depth in your own life and in your relationships with others, including your children.
- MOPS International - Mothers of Preschoolers
Often parents have a range of ages and MOPS knows preschool kids. A great resource for mothers with young kids, MOPS has groups that meet around the country. It is place to connect with other moms in your area and get the support we all need.
- Hearts at Home - The Go-To Place For Moms
Hearts at Home’s mission is to encourage, educate, and equip every mom in every season of motherhood using Christian values to strengthen families.