7 things to teach your kids to raise independent and confident boys and girls
These are based on observations of different parents and what they do in their parenting journeys, that sets their children apart from the rest. When I look back at my own childhood, I see a lot of the things my parents did that have contributed to making me who I am. As Z grows up I hope I can do the same with her.
I'd break it down broadly to the following:
1. Communication Skills
Our family is big on articulation. When we were younger my dad used to sometimes conduct speech contests for us kids. Sometimes our cousins would also participate. It was so much fun, without the pressure of winning. My mom used to encourage us to participate in school debates and elocutions. She'd help prepare the speech, sometimes my aunt would chip in too, This taught us the format and soon I was preparing my own speeches with inputs from my parents.
My parents also a put a huge emphasis on our social skills. Having a defence background also helped because you are expected to talk politely and articulate yourself well. These skills help later on in our life, be it at uni group discussions or at work.
[This also includes being a good listener]
[I also wanted to add here the importance of communicating with each other in the family. To this day I can talk to my family about anything under the sun without fear. Alhamdulillah. It helps when there's that space and freedom to approach each other with vulnerability]
2. Financial Skills
I can't put enough emphasis on this. Your children need to know how to budget and live within their means. At 18 when I left for college, I had an initial monthly budget of 5000 INR in which I'd manage my rent,food, and travel expenses. My father asked me to keep an account of where and what I was spending on. And over the 4 years of UG and PG I maintained excel sheets where I tracked my expenses.
My husband has a detailed sheet in which he tracks daily expenses and categorizes them into personal/household etc. We have our own sheets and we have a common sheet where we track our combined expenses. Although it's a bit of a hassle updating, boy does it help in the long run. We know exactly what we are spending and where. It also helps you save for the future.
3. Plan B/Escape Plan/Conflict Resolution
This is quite broad and is a combination of a lot of skills. Children should know the exit/escape strategy. They must know what to do if they are lost in a crowd. Who to contact first? What do they do if someone touches them inappropriately? What do they do if they are being bullied or see someone being bullied?
I'd also include basic survival skills in this- being able to look after yourself, feed yourself etc. [Cooking is one skill I picked up really late, despite my mom's lectures].
4. Compassion and Empathy
Yes. These are skills. And in these times, the most essential ones. Please raise compassionate children. Teach them to identify with others struggles. Encourage them to walk in someone else's shoes. Help them help others. Not only will they be helping others, they will be increasing their Emotional Intelligence. We need more emphasis on high EQ than high IQ. [An aside: I believe reading helps a lot in developing empathy and the ability to approach things from multiple perspectives]
5. Respect their Individuality
No one will ever think they are destined for greatness if their own family encourages them to leave all their unique qualities and just follow the crowd. My siblings and I are starkly different from each other, with our own strengths and weaknesses. My parents have encouraged us to pursue our individual strengths and work on our weaknesses. They did not flatten out the differences. The result is that we are all (mostly) confident in our own skin.
6. The ability to laugh at yourself.
We don't take ourselves too seriously. We laugh at each other and ourselves. We make fun relentlessly of childhood gaffes and embarrassing stories. This makes sure that none of us let our successes get to our head. I am sure even if I win a Nobel Prize, my family will remind me of the time I cried in Pisa.
7. Reliance on God
This is the most important of all. At my lowest point and on my highest wave, I try to remember there is God watching over. Nothing can delay or deny what he has destined for me. And He listens. This thought has liberated me from being crushed by defeats and has taken me through a lot. And I credit a huge part of that relationship to deep conversations with my parents
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