When my three children were 7, 6, and 1, I was introduced to Empowerment Parenting. Prior to that introduction, I thought parenting meant that I had to make my children behave and perform all while feeling frazzled and overwhelmed much of the time. These new concepts were a paradigm shift and showed me that my children want to do well. The idea was more about empowering children rather than making them behave. They just needed guidance for making wise choices for themselves.
Teaching my children that they were capable of making great decisions and that they were believed in all while having definite boundary lines have developed them into the confident successful women they are today. Today they make very healthy choices for themselves. Here’s how to empower children to choose wisely for themselves:
Give your kids choices.
Empowerment Parenting is based on giving a child choices instead of telling them what to do. For instance, when my children needed to clean their room, instead of demanding they clean it followed by yelling at them when they didn’t I would say, “Would you like to clean your room now or before lunch?” They would always choose the latter. Then, about lunchtime, when I knew they’d be hungry, I said, “It’s time to clean your room.” This was followed by whining, bargaining, and resistance. Instead of yelling and getting angry, I would calmly say, “Feel free to eat lunch when your room is clean.” No matter what came next I stuck to my resolve. Hunger always won eventually.
Control demands, coerces, and forces someone else to do something. Instead of telling the child what to do, I told them what I would do. Empowerment gives consequences without disappointment, shame, or punishment.
Demanding that a child behave in order to control the present disorder can make us feel powerful in the moment but, oftentimes, at the cost of a child owning their own behavior in the future. How to discipline, with a long-term vision, in the moment requires creativity, steadfastness, and self-control.
The school-aged child who always tries to get out of doing homework.
“Mom, can I play a video game?” “Sure! Just as soon as you finish your homework.”
The small child throwing a fit on the floor.
“This area of the house is the fun zone. That isn’t fun for the rest of us. Would you like to stay in this room and be fun or go to your room to continue that fit?” Fit continues. “Would you like to walk to your room or would you like me to carry you?” Fit continues. “Okay, I guess you want me to carry you to your room.” You remain calm throughout the whole process and carry them to their room. “Feel free to come out when you are fun.” If they come out still having a fit, start over. “Would you like to be fun or throw a fit in your room?” At some point, they will respond differently. They will either stop the fit, stomp off to their room, or put on a happy face and come out of the room seconds later with a different disposition.
The teen who consistently oversleeps.
The night before tell them, “Hey, I’ve decided I don’t want to be in charge of getting you to school on time so feel free to sleep as late as you like.” They will respond with, “What? I will miss the bus!” Your calm response is, “Then I suppose you could hire me to drive you.” They will say, “Hire you? What does that mean?” Reply with, “My time is valuable. If you need me to be your Uber driver, you can pay me to take you to school if you miss the bus.”
Let them solve the problem.
All of these scenarios give the child the problem to solve instead of you. Each one places the burden of behavior in their hands. Instead of you and your control being the problem, the problem is the problem. When a child has the responsibility to solve the right problem they will. Your job is to remain calm and be undaunted in your resolve to follow through on what you’ve said you will do.
Tell us! How empowered do you feel as a mom these days?