11 Easy Ways to Empower Your Kids

As parents we tend to get used to making all the decisions for our kids, from when they eat to where they go to have fun we're always in control. It is understandable that our kids might feel disempowered. But there are easy ways you can turn that around and empower your kids - and you can start today!

1. Listen to them

The first thing you need to learn is to listen to your kids. Not just hear them, but actually listen. Pay attention to the words they use, listen to how they express themselves and try to infer their feelings from their words. 

11 Easy Ways To Empower Your Kids | Listen to your kids, no matter what they have to say.
Listening to your kids can be a great start to empowering them.

It's easy to get sucked into the parenting issues and ask the kids to be quiet when they're playing, and then ignore them when they're trying to talk to you. I've done it myself. LP can be playing in the house making as much noise as he possibly can and I have to tell him to quiet down. Then later when he comes to talk to me and I'm busy cooking dinner or cleaning I forget to actually listen to him and just let him ramble on thinking it's not important. 

By taking a moment to stop what you're doing and listening to your kids you're showing them you are engaged.

2. Empower your kids by letting them express an opinion

When family members argue it can be frustrating, particularly when it's siblings arguing over a video game or some toy. It can be tough to listen to, especially when you've spent the day refereeing, but it can also be a good thing - you just have to look at it in the right way.

11 Easy Ways To Empower Your Kids | Let your kids express opinions and they'll feel empowered!

When siblings argue they're expressing an opinion, they're telling the other sibling what they think of them (usually in an unpleasant way - but still). But there are also other ways you can encourage your kids to express an opinion.

By talking to your kids, and asking them what they think, you're not only learning about them but you're giving them the opportunity to talk to you honestly. They feel free to tell you what they think, even if they disagree with you, and that can be a huge step for some kids. 

You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.

Steve Maraboli

BP is a very quiet boy. At 15 he doesn't do a lot of talking, and more often than not he's a bit of a grump around the house. But he is also a delight to talk to when he's in the right mood. Over the weekend he happened to be in the right mood and we talked for hours about all sorts of topics, including what he's thinking about his A-Level choices. Both the Hubby and I sat and listened to him, even when he said he didn't want to do a subject because he didn't like his teacher. He felt free enough to tell us what he thought and as a result we discussed other options. I think we all felt better about his plans after talking it all through, and I am so glad he felt he could talk to us about it.

3. Ask your kids how they're feeling

As a mum you often know when something is bothering your kids, so why not take some time away from household chores and sit with them. Ask them how they're feeling and listen to the answer, offer advice if it's asked for but otherwise just be there. Give them someone to talk to without being the "parent" and telling them they're wrong or just being grumpy. 

11 Easy Ways To Empower Your Kids | Ask your teens how they're feeling - especially when they're grumpy.
Ask your kids how they're feeling. They may need someone to talk to.

When my boys are upset about something I know, there are tell-tale mannerisms that give them away. But I also don't push when I ask them what's wrong - I just tell them I'm ready to listen if they need me to.

4. Words, used wisely, can empower

It's so easy to use the usual parenting language and saying the kids are just being annoying or refer to them in a negative way. The negative words have more impact than you think, and by changing the words you use you could have a massive impact on how your kids feel.

If you take the time to assess how you're talking to your kids, and change your language, your kids will notice. It will show them that you're actually willing to change to make them feel better, more valued, and as a result they will feel empowered.

5. Give your kids choice to empower them

One way parents make their kids feel disempowered is by making all their decisions for them. From what they eat for dinner to where they go to play you spend the majority of the time making your kids' choices for them. But what would happen if you didn't?

Take a moment to think about how you would feel if someone else made all your decisions. You wouldn't feel good would you? So instead of making all the decisions why not give your kids a chance to make the choice? Give them two options for dinner, ask them what activity they would like to do for fun.

11 Easy Ways To Empower Your Kids | Ask your kids what they want to do for fun...
They may want to make a mess - but is that such a bad thing?

We like to go to restaurants as a family and often give our kids the choice of which one they'd like to go to. But it's not just about food choices. We let our kids have input in our holidays, what we do in our spare time (like playing board games), and we even talk to them about bills and household stuff too. We believe that by involving them in these decisions we're teaching them important lessons as well as empowering them. 

6. Speak positively

Like I said before it can be easy to use negative language around your kids. From describing your own feelings in a negative way, to complaining about a TV show or complaining about your weight. All of it is negative and by switching it up and trying to use positive words you're changing the things your kids hear.

When it comes to body positivity this can be invaluable. I am overweight and have spent a lot of time talking about my unhappiness with my body. Despite both my boys being very slim - some would probably say underweight - they still have issues with thinking they're gaining weight. As a result I have taken the time to adjust how I talk about myself when I'm with them. I would hate to think my complaints will give them life-long body issues so I'm making the changes now in the hope that this will undo the damage.

7. Letting your kids take risks will empower them

I'm not talking sky dives or cliff jumping here, I mean educated risks. As a worried mum I would spend a lot of time saying now when my boys were young. They would ask if they could try something and I'd say no - it was a reflex. The last thing I wanted them to do was take a risk and get hurt. But the Hubby has always been there to counter me, because I am obviously too risk-averse. 

My youngest likes to take risks and try new things. We like walking along canals, and when BP was about 6 years old we were walking along a particular canal (in November) and he was playing. He managed to fall into the canal! It was SO scary. Luckily he could swim and managed to get to the side where his dad pulled him out. But that gave me a fear and whenever I see either of my boys walking along the edge of the canal side I tell them to move. Of course when my youngest asked if he could go across the lock to have some fun I obviously said no. And the Hubby told me I was being silly.

11 Easy Ways To Empower Your Kids | Let them climb trees and play in the mud...
My stomach flips whenever he does risky things - but he loves it!

Yes, I was. I was concerned for LP's safety, but to be honest he is more careful and is well aware of his limitations. So I gave in. And his face when he got to the other side was a picture! He couldn't have been more pleased with himself. And that made me see that it's a good thing to let them take risks sometimes. 

When kids challenge themselves and we let them take an educated risk they can really thrive. They get to prove to themselves they can do something, and they also get to see us celebrating with them when they accomplish something. So let your kids take a risk, and watch as their faces light up!

8. Encourage perseverance

Of course letting your kids take risks won't always work out for the best. Sometimes they'll fail, hurt themselves, or simply feel bad. But these don't have to be bad things - it can be a great opportunity to encourage them to try again. Taking the chance to teach them about perseverance, to keep trying despite the failure, will show them that it doesn't matter if they fail at something. They just need to keep going. 

11 Easy Ways To Empower Your Kids | Let them keep trying, and they'll get there.
Encourage them to keep trying and you'll be glad you did.

This is a tough lesson and even as adults some of us give up if we fail. But I like to use video games as an example of perseverance. When I was growing up I liked to play Super Mario on the SNES and that game was quite a challenge. I would die lots of times and would give up after a few tries. But, in the end I completed the game because I kept coming back to it to try to beat the game. It was a good way to learn perseverance and that by continuing to try - despite failures - I could accomplish something. I use this example when I'm talking to my kids about trying. They are quick to give up on things they can't do and I try to encourage them to keep trying. Because at the end of the day there are always going to be things we fail at first time, and if we keep trying we could accomplish something wonderful - not just winning at a game.

9. Encourage them to follow their dreams

My dad has always said to me "You can do anything you put your mind to", he's encouraged me when I started writing and is always there cheering me on whenever I need him. He is my cheerleader. And I have no doubt that if I told him I wanted to be an astronaut he'd tell me to go for it. With that kind of support it's easy to keep yourself going, even when you doubt yourself.

You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.

Stephen King

Be that person for your kids. Encourage them to chase that dream, show them that if they work hard towards a goal they will achieve wonderful things. 

10. Empower your kids by being there

This one is simple - be there for your kids. If they call out for you, come running. If they ask you a question, answer it. If they want to talk, make the time to talk to them. 

Simply by being around, showing them you're there for them no matter what, they will have the confidence to pursue their dreams. When your kids know you support them, when they feel they can talk to you, they are happier and more likely to come to you with the important stuff.

11. Treasure the happy times

This sounds like one you do without thinking but do you ever talk about the happy times with your kids? 

We spend a lot of time driving around during a weekend when we visit family and more often than not we take this opportunity to talk to our kids. We talk about all kinds of things, and sometimes we'll reminisce about old holidays or times when we had fun as a family together. We laugh about the time BP fell in the canal - despite it being freezing and we were more than 5 miles from home. We talk about how he had to borrow my jacket, and his dad's, and walk along with no trousers on - in the middle of November! We chat about our many holidays as a family, and how much we loved the places we visited - like Venice. But most of all we like to smile. We enjoy having the four of us together and having a good time - be that at a restaurant, chatting at home, or off on holiday to some far off place.

11 Easy Ways To Empower Your Kids | Enjoy the happy times.
Be together as a family unit.

Those happy times are so important, and even if they're in the past talking to your kids about them may even spark memories they didn't know they had! By smiling and laughing together you'll bond, and they will feel closer to you and empowered too. Win!

Further reading

I loved this post from Ashley over on Nurture & Thrive entitled The One Thing To Always Say When Disciplining Your Toddler in which Ashley talks about using discipline as a way to empower your kids to change their behaviour. She says, "as parents then we are teachers..." and I have to agree. 

Another article I loved was over on Motherly - 10 important phrases parents can use to empower their daughters. While I have two boys I think a lot of the phrases can be used by any parents. Giving examples of words you should use, and examples of those you should take a break from using, this article has some great insight.

11 Easy Ways To Empower Your Kids | Could you use these 11 things to empower your kids?

Empowering your kids is not as difficult as it sounds. It's not about special techniques or words you should be using, it's about being a positive influence in your kids' lives. It's about being there when they need you, whether that's just for a chat or to shout from the rooftops how wonderful they are. The easiest way you can empower your kids is to be their parent - and you're rocking at that already!

How do you empower your kids?

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