When you have a child with academic, social or behavioral issues, you know how important and how challenging it can be to teach them independence. However, if you want your child to thrive and succeed, you need them to be able to handle tough situations on their own. There are ways that you can teach your child to be their own advocate, so that you can be confident they are comfortable and protected, even when they're not with you. Here are some tips for teaching your child to effectively self-advocate.
The first step to advocating for yourself is understanding what it is you feel and need. Teach your child how to be self-aware, by ensuring they're able to identify and name their emotions. Once your child is able to identify what he's feeling, he'll be better able to ask or speak up for what he needs in a situation. If your child has a hard time identifying or speaking about his feelings, create a feelings chart and practice picking out and describing emotions. It can also help to connect kids with their feelings by identifying the emotions of characters in movies or television.
Allow Your Child to Problem Solve
When your child experiences a problem at home, allow them to solve the problem without stepping in. For example, when they can't find something they need, allow them to search and discover it on their own. Or, if they're arguing with a friend or sibling, encourage them to talk through the argument without stepping in to settle it. By encouraging your child to work out their own problems at home, you allow them to develop problem solving skills that make self-advocacy easier out in the world.
Reward Your Child for Speaking Up
Your child should be able to tell you what their needs are without you having to ask. When your child is able to approach you with a worry, need, fear, or concern, reward them both with praise—or tangible rewards if they need more encouragement. When you reward a child for speaking up at home, you encourage them to do it no matter what environment they're in.