Teaching Children their Voice Matters
I often share my most proudest parenting moments through the accomplishments of my oldest daughter. With a wide range of interests and empowered to feel like she really can be anything she wants to be, she is a force without boundaries. Often I have to take a step back with the realization she is only nine years old. Her list of accomplishments is long but nothing in comparison to the plans she has for her future education and career goals. And although she is nothing short of amazing, as a parent I’m always questioning myself and the decisions we make for her. Because she is very inquisitive and articulate, it’s easy to talk to her about mature topics. Sometimes she asks tough questions and although she’s young, we empower her to continue learning about the tough stuff by open conversations in our home. This week I wasn’t prepared for her to ask about social injustices and racial inequality beyond what she has learned in school. Luckily these questions came at the same time as the delivery of our advanced copy of WordFire Press’ Danielle, Chronicles of a Superheroine, the first novel from futurist, inventor and author Ray Kurzeil, about a girl intent on changing the world.
Our daughter excels at most things she tries. Before she was five years old she starting contributing content to SeaWorld about marine animals and ocean conservation. She’s spent more than half her young life learning alongside mentors, environmentalists and biologists about the importance of making positive differences for animals and our water sources. Her biweekly content contribution is something she is very proud of and has shown her how to use her voice responsibly to spread awareness about what she truly believes in. For years working with the public relations team she has a remarkable understanding of content creation and marketing. She attends an academically challenging elementary school and is learning several grade levels ahead in all core subjects and through a variety of other classes like engineering and robotics. She is in the yearbook club and wears her badge proudly every week as a designated event photographer. She’s been on a youth competitive rock climbing team for the past two years and this last weekend brought home a first place rank at the first bouldering competition of the season.
She’s helped rescue an injured sea lion from a California beach. She’s led a conservation club at a local aquarium. She’s sang all by herself at her school talent show. Last year she was the third grade Mandarin class student of the year at her school. She inspires change everyday by always reminding her peers to make responsible decisions for the environment. My nine year old daughter is quite amazing and I’m always astounded when she speeds past another milestone or exceeds previous limits. I’m also surprised when she brings up sensitive topics for the first time at home. Social injustices and racial inequality are new topics to navigate with my young daughter.
We are true believers in open conversations and honesty with our children. We’ve always answered our oldest daughters’ questions truthfully and are grateful she has not yet doubted the magic of Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. Attending a very ethnically diverse school has been a great experience because from a very young age, our daughters’ peers have introduced her to culture she wouldn’t have learned about so intimately otherwise. There are other ways we are making sure our daughter learns about diversity and awareness too. With just a few simple activities, you can help navigate your way through answering tough questions and empowering your children to form their own opinions.
How to teach your children their voice matters
Raise your voice. Teach your children that their voice matters and to fight for what they believe in. Our daughter loves to read and I’m elated by the delivery of our advanced copy of Danielle, Chronicles of a Superheroine because it’s the story of a young girl making a difference by using her voice. It channels everything our daughter is already doing with her own voice and teaches the importance of standing up for what you believe in. Preorder the book for a January 2019 delivery so you can be prepared for when your child starts navigating these topics too.
Learn by Doing
Inspire your children to care about world issues and create change. Our daughter began learning about ocean conservation at a very young age because she was so interested in marine animals. Many children love the ocean and learning about sea creatures. This was particularly interesting to us because we don’t live in a coastal state so our daughter does not get the same daily awareness as others with awareness campaigns simply because of proximity to the water. This took an effort on our part but by providing our daughter with learning opportunities to interact and engage with thought leaders on the topic, she was enthusiastic to learn more. Being a student at an ethnically diverse school has given her the opportunity to learn so much about other cultures. Empower your children to be confident to ask questions so they can learn by doing.
Inspire to dream big
Teach your children to never let fear get in the way of following their dreams. Recognizing social inequalities and racial inequality started a much bigger conversation in our home. But talking through the topics and recognizing that although there are obvious challenges, children should dream big because they are the future and need to feel confident about their career ambitions. Fear should never be the reason you don’t follow your dreams.
It’s fall break and we’ll be spending more time reading about Danielle together this week. I’ve already started reading the advanced copy and am looking forward to talking about it to our daughter as she continues learning anyone can change the world.
Learn more about WordFire Press’ Danielle, Chronicles of a Superheroine by connecting with the book character, Danielle, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.