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Helping Your Kids Find Their Voice (The Right Way)

We recently had a financial literacy session with a kids' sports academy, and there was this particular boy, Owen, who was always the first to raise his hand. Though he didn't always get the answer right (laughs), the way he expressed himself showed he had found his voice. 

Many parents or guardians reading this may be wishing their kids were more like Owen. Well, after reading this article, you can be sure that your kids will be one step closer to finding their voice too. In this article, we'll share practical tips for helping your kids find their voice and common challenges they may face along the way. But before we go into that, why is it important for your kids to find their voice? Let's find out.

Benefits of Kids Finding Their Voice

Research has shown that kids who are encouraged to express themselves openly tend to have higher self-esteem, stronger interpersonal skills, and better emotional resilience. Here are five key reasons why helping your kids find their voice is crucial:

  • Higher Self-Esteem: When children are encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings freely, they develop a sense of self-worth and confidence in their abilities.

  • Improved Communication Skills: Finding their voice allows children to articulate their thoughts and ideas more effectively, leading to better communication with peers, teachers, and family members.

  • Greater Emotional Resilience: By learning to express and process their emotions openly, children become more resilient in the face of challenges and setbacks.

  • Stronger Relationships: When children feel comfortable expressing themselves authentically, they form deeper and more meaningful connections with others based on mutual understanding and respect.

  • Empowerment and Advocacy: Finding their voice empowers children to advocate for themselves and others, stand up for what they believe in, and effect positive change in their communities.

5 Practical Tips for Helping Kids Find Their Voice

1. Encouraging Open Communication 

Building a foundation of open communication starts with creating a safe and non-judgmental environment where your child feels free to express themselves. Encourage regular conversations about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and listen attentively without interrupting or dismissing their concerns. 

Sometimes, you may disagree with what they say, but you need to empathize with them and acknowledge their feelings. 

2. Teaching Self-Awareness 

Self-awareness is a fundamental skill that empowers kids to understand themselves better. Help your child develop awareness through self-reflection through activities like journaling, drawing, or mindfulness exercises. Another way to go about this is by engaging in discussions about their likes, dislikes, strengths, and challenges.

3. Embracing Individuality

Every child is unique, with their own set of interests, strengths, and perspectives. Encourage your child to be true to themselves, regardless of societal expectations or peer pressure. Provide opportunities for them to try new things, discover their interests, and showcase their talents.

4. Encouraging Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for oneself and assert one's needs and rights confidently. Teach your child to advocate for themselves by helping them identify their needs and express them assertively and respectfully. Encourage them to ask questions, seek clarification, and voice their opinions in various settings, whether at school, with friends, or in extracurricular activities.

5. Supporting Their Passions and Goals 

Encourage your child to pursue their passions and dreams, and provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed. If they love drawing, you can enroll them in an art class; if they love gaming, you can enroll them in a coding class. 

Celebrate their successes, no matter how small, and offer genuine praise for their efforts. By supporting their passions, you empower them to pursue their dreams and find their voice in the process.

Common Challenges Kids Face in Finding Their Voice

  • Fear of Judgment: Many children worry about what others will think if they speak up or express their opinions. They fear being ridiculed or rejected, which can lead them to stay silent.

  • Constant Comparison: Many parents fall into the trap of comparing their kids to others or pushing them to be something they're not. But this can crush their confidence and make them feel like they're not good enough as they are.

  • Peer Pressure: Peer influence is a significant challenge for many children, especially during adolescence. They may feel pressured to conform to their peers' beliefs or behaviors to fit in, even if it goes against their own values.

  • Keeping Them in a Bubble: As parents, our instinct is to shield our kids from anything that might cause them pain. But by doing so, we might be preventing them from learning and growing through life's challenges.

  • Lack of Confidence: Children who lack confidence may struggle to find their voice and assert themselves in various situations. They may doubt their abilities or feel insecure about expressing their thoughts and feelings.

Now, you have everything you need to help your kids find their voice. You may have noticed some mistakes you have been making, don't beat yourself up. We learn every day. Every time you allow your kids to express their opinion or hold yourself back from comparing them to Ngozi, your neighbour's child, you're helping them find their voice.