Monday, October 27, 2014

Empowered Families: What's in your tool box?

Today we're diving into our series on Empowered Families. If you missed the Intro post, please read it HERE. As always, keep in mind that I am not a parenting expert, just a Mom inviting you to join me on my parenting journey.

The first part of the acronym for EMPOWER is Equip the child with the tools they need to be successful in a given situation. Let's start with two very different scenarios.

Scenario A:
The school year at Countryside Elementary where Miss Julie teaches kindergarten has just begun. Two children in her class have a hard time getting along with one another. After yet another squabble on the playground, Miss Julie tells the students, "You have to work this out between the two of you. I am not a referee." Frustrated, the children continue their argument on the other side of the playground, never coming to a resolution. In her mind, Julie thinks, "I'm empowering my students to solve their own problems."

Scenario B:
Aaron is new to his work organization. When his boss asks if he is interested in leading a floundering team, he jumps at the opportunity to broaden his skill set and make a positive impact. His boss introduces him to the team and tells him he is empowered to lead the team however he sees fit. A few months pass and Aaron meets with his boss again; his enthusiasm is now gone. The team is not cooperating with his vision and he is exhausted from the extra workload. His boss asks him a few questions: Why did he not get buy-in from existing team members before making the changes? Why did he not delegate some tasks to an assistant? And why did he choose to implement all the changes at once, instead of in phases? A defeated Aaron resigns from leading the team.

What's the problem with these two scenarios? Neither Miss Julie nor Aaron's boss really understand the meaning of empower. Empowerment is not the same thing as absence. An empowered person is not someone who has been left to their own devices, it is someone who has been equipped with tools they can use in their lives to be successful. The principle here is simple: children can't use tools they haven't been given. And a child who is not equipped with tools is a victim.


So, what are some tools we can give our kids? They're easier than you think!

1) Simple Phrases

"Stop it, I don't like it when you (hit me, bite, yell at me, grab my shirt, interrupt me, etc.)"
"I'm not playing chase right now. Would you like to (swing, ride bikes) instead?"
"I don't want to do that so I am going to play over there. If you want to, you can come with me."
"I feel (angry, sad, frustrated) when you _____."
"I like it when you (rub my back, give me hugs, read books to me, etc.)"

Even my two-year old is learning to say "Stop it, I don't like that." I have heard her tell her big sister when she takes a building block away and she's even said it to her Daddy when he tried to tousle her hair! Healthy tools let the child know that they are not victims in their relationships and they have power to set boundaries and limits.

2) Age-appropriate Skills/Chores

Children as young as two-years old can learn to do one- and two-step chores. But again, empowerment is not absence! I can't tell my two-year old to go pick up her toys and expect her to be successful if I haven't coached her in the process. Why should children do chores? I feel that they build a sense of family community, personal responsibility and instill confidence. As they get older, you can branch more into financial responsibility, time management, etc.

For a list of age-appropriate chores, click here or if you'd like a cute printable version, you can find one at The Happy Housewife (Seen above; please go to her site via this link to download and print!) I'm currently working on creating a list that works in our home with our children, so don't think I'm an expert, we're still a work-in-progress around here! If you follow My Sacred Sojourn on Facebook, I'll share our chore chart later in the week.

3) Ask questions.

Have you ever been dealing with a problem and someone asks a question that helps you put it in a different perspective? A question that forces you to consider a possibility you didn't see before or inspires an idea for a solution? Aren't those questions far more helpful than a simple command or piece of advice? Here is a short list of questions you might keep in your pocket.

"What's another way you could do that?"
"Is there something you need to make that work better?"
"Can you think of a safer way to do that?"
"How could we find the answer to that question?"
"Can you tell me how you feel about that?"

These questions are meant to inspire conversations and help your child think through the process to find their own solutions so don't jump in with your own answer right away! Give them the gift of time to think.

I had a great time sharing this with you today and I hope you were able to take at least a little bit from this. Please share your (kind!) comments and let's get the conversation started! What are some of the healthy tools you're seeking to instill in your children?


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