A child’s sense of individuality can be influenced by a variety of people and experiences. And although self-identity takes place throughout a person’s lifetime, the foundation of who your child is usually takes place during his or her youth.
Children gain most of their influence from their parents, especially from their young, ripe age. With that in mind, helping your children discover their passions, strengths, and the best parts of themselves, are best done when you still can — when they’re young or not quite old enough to feel like they can do everything on their own.
Provide the Right Environment
Children today are constantly bombarded with external influences. Just think of all the messages their brains receive from daily digital consumption alone. There’s social media, video games, mindless apps and internet browsing, etc.
As they are immersed in the ins and outs of the digital world, it is up to us as parents to create a world at home, where they can escape from the noise and clutter of online activities. Parents can provide a healthy lifestyle and teach core values that will help them feel their best. Values that shape a child’s identity include:
- Hard work
Believe it or not, everything that happens in your home sends a message to your child about these values. Be conscious and aware of what message you give.
Be a Model of Healthy Self-Identity
Parents have the difficult task of walking the walk. If you struggle with your own identity or don’t feel genuine about who you are, it’s time for a personal evaluation.
There is no better time to find your purpose than now. Find your purpose in your daily interactions and live your life with awareness and intent. Your internally derived and well-defined self-identity will be something your children will emulate. After all, you are their most important influence and much of who they are is simply after a model of your own actions and values.
Share your passions with your child by letting them see you study, learn and doing things that better yourself. Express your dreams and allow them to be part of the processes you endure to make stuff happen in your own life. Share with them your failures and what you learned from them.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
As you share all these things with your child, you’ll be surprised how interested they are in your “adult life”. Many kids can wait to grow up and do adult things. So let them see you in your daily life helping others, showing up and giving it your all, being your best self.
Ask your child questions and create discussion about them:
- What makes them excited?
- Which things do they dread?
- What would they like to achieve or accomplish today? This month? This year?
- Who do they admire and why?
- Do they have a great friend? Who is it? Why is this person so close to them?
- What worries them in the world we live in?
There are so many questions that can get a conversation rolling with your child that will give you a glimpse inside their head.
Be Your Child’s Biggest Cheerleader
Your child arrived here on earth as an individual and the best way a parent can serve that individuality is to run with it. Guide them to their strengths, help them accept their weaknesses and work to improve themselves in healthy ways. Cheer them on as they try new things and help them navigate emotions that accompany both successes in life and failure. Take their interests to new levels in all areas including academia, athletics, arts, and many more.
There will be ups and downs with a child discovering who they are. Parents have a tricky job of mentoring a child through those young years. Keeping it real, challenging them, talking and listening will provide a great base for helping them navigate this adventurous road.