This is an interview about child abuse, child safety and protecting children.
What on earth does self confidence and a solid self image have to do with CHILD SAFETY?!"
That was the start of last night's radio interview we did. This little note isn't about how popular we are. We're sharing this with you to make a point: confidence has everything to do with child safety and keeping kids safe.
So, we shocked the "Shock Jock."
Confidence is the Number One safety technique we teach. Confidence building is the Number One parenting skill we emphasize.
No matter what the age of your child.
No matter who you are.
No matter where you live.
No matter what your circumstances are.
Helice Bridges of Difference Makers International discovered this years ago. She built an entire world wide organization based on boosting self confidence in individuals. There's now special Blue Ribbon awards for all ages, people, professions and countries.
Confidence is the foundation for everything in child safety. Confidence building is a very powerful teaching tool, as well. As a parent you also have the very same powerful tool at your disposal. And a great way to apply this parenting tool is with EMPOWERMENT.
When you empower your child, you will truly teach them to make choices for themselves. When they can make good choices for themselves they will be able to assess situations around them and respond in an appropriate manner.
They will be able to make THE RIGHT choice when faced with a dangerous situation, when approached by a bully or inappropriate adult or when grabbed or surprised by an extreme predator. Very simply, it is all about teaching your child to make good choices, the best choices, for themselves. Yes, they will truly be able to keep themselves safe for a lifetime.
In its simplest form, empowerment means your child feels like they have a measure of control over their life. They feel they can make their own decisions, good decisions. Most kids don't feel this ability. Because they feel powerless, kids will engage in a struggle with their parents to get some control of their lives. In doing so it usually comes across as conflict:
No! I don't want to go!
I don't like that!
I'm not eating that!
I don't want to!
Leave me alone!
How to empower your child depends on their age. For children ages 4 to 7, give them alternatives to situations in their lives, let them make some of their own choices. For example, instead of serving them broccoli, ask them to choose between carrots, peas or broccoli or another vegetable as you prepare it. Let them choose the socks they want to wear. Letting them pick a favorite t-shirt can bolster their self-image. Give in to their cries of, "I can do it! I want to do it!"
Kids around 8 to 13 years old crave parental trust. Knowing Mom or Dad trusts them is a powerful confidence booster for kids this age. Empowering your elementary age child means when they do something, you "let go" and trust them to do it. At this age confidence building centers primarily around the issue of trust and you as a parent have to lead the way by example.
When your child reaches high school age, most of your parental work is in place or done. It is simply a time to "guide" your child and confidence boosting comes in the form of respect. Most teenagers need to know their parents respect them. With kids at this age it is very challenging for any parent but demonstrating respect for your child's choices for themselves, even if you don't always agree with them, is critical for their self image.
These are pretty simple examples, but this is about as easy as it gets in empowering your child. Giving your child choices, trust and respect is crucial in their development. It is crucial in their ability to keep themselves safe against all kinds of dangers.
For parents who feel like they need to learn more about confidence building in kids there's a great resource in India Parenting's Child Confidence Boosting page. It's packed with great links and information.
All this being said, will your child always make good choices for themselves?
That is where you, Mom and Dad, come into the picture. You, as a mentor to your child, can guide them through the array of choices they will face. You can guide them and teach them about learning to make good choices and their benefits.
And safety? Well, confident kids are not messed with by bullies at school. Confident kids know when that when confronted by an inappropriate request they can to say "NO!" Confident teenagers don't always bow to peer pressure. Confident adults do not intimidated by the nasty co-worker in the office. It's called "safety for a lifetime."