Children should have the opportunity to express their opinions even when their opinions are different from your own. Of course, you’re still the parent and this doesn’t mean that they always get their way. However, allowing your kids to speak their minds in an appropriate way increases self-esteem and promotes better interpersonal skills.
There are many old sayings that I absolutely love and quote them often. However, there are some sayings that should be tossed right in the trash.
One of the things that many people have said over the years is that “Children should be seen and not heard,” and this is a saying that I totally disagree with.
Children should not only be heard but should be encouraged to say what is on their minds.
Why I believe this?
1. Children are learning to navigate this world and are still trying to get it right.
This is why they ask so many questions and even why they test limits sometimes. Of course as their parents, you want to make sure that you correct inappropriate behavior, but should children be punished for “talking back” when they are questioning a rule or giving a divergent opinion? I’m not really in favor of that approach.
My children are permitted to ask questions when they don’t understand why their Father and I have made the decisions that we made. We don’t say “Because I said so” when they truly just don’t understand why we made such decision.
2. We explain our decision-making in terms that are appropriate for their level because we think that these times are very important learning opportunities.
Sometimes, the kids may throw a temper tantrum after we’ve tried to explain our position, and this is more often an issue with my five-year-old daughter. When this happens, we stop with the explanations until she calms down because she really isn’t in a position to hear us in the middle of the tantrum anyway. However, we never refuse to have a discussion with our kids about decisions that impact them.
My 14-year-old son is known to give his opinion, whether we ask for it or not, and we welcome his input. Sometimes he has some valid thoughts that we really didn’t consider and our decisions sometimes change a little. Most of the time, the decision stays the same. However, we let him know that we value his input, regardless of what my husband and I ultimately decide.
3. We are responsible for our kids so we have to raise them to be well-functioning adults.
Therefore it’s very important to promote high self-esteem and to encourage good interpersonal skills. You want your children to have high self-esteem and that starts by letting them know that their thoughts are important and valued. Good interpersonal skills are learned when you allow them to express their opinion in an appropriate way. Encourage them to contribute to conversations and to give their opinions, even if it differs from your own. This does two things: It helps you to know what they are thinking so that you can correct any flawed perceptions. It also helps them to internalize their own self-worthiness because they know that their opinions are important.
4. Kids should learn how to express themselves now so that they can carry that skill over into adulthood.
However, the key is ‘appropriate’ self-expression. Your children should know the difference between expressing their opinion and being disrespectful. Teach your children to express themselves in an appropriate tone and volume while using appropriate words. Remember, you’re raising future parents, spouses, community leaders, and other great people so you want to start now in giving them the skills that they need in order to be successful.