Teach Your Children to Advocate for Themselves
I believe everyone can succeed and be happy with the right encouragement, inspiration, and motivation. That is why I created the blog Janeane’s World. It is also why I work each day to create resources designed to help you be your best at work and home. One of those resources is this series of articles on How to Advocate for Your Children to Succeed. The book and the series recognize that one of the most important jobs and entrepreneur has is to care for her family and advocate for her children.
An important part of advocating for your children’s success is teaching your children to advocate for themselves. This is an important skill that your children should start learning as early as possible in life. They need to learn this skill early so they can get better at it as they grow older. The ability to advocate for one’s self is an important tool in life. Often parents do not think about teaching their children to advocate for themselves because they think it is not necessary. This could not be further from the truth.
As soon as children make contact with other people, there is a need for them to advocate for themselves. For example, when two toddlers see each other at the playground and want to play together. A discussion will take place about what game to play. Your children need to use advocacy skills in order to play the games they want to play.
Once your children move on to religious school activities and want to have a particular part in a church program, they need to advocate for themselves to convince the adult in charge to let them be in the program and to do the parts they want. When your children enter school, even at the kindergarten level they must use their skills as an advocate to get what they need and want from peers, teachers, and administrators.
Most people have heard the expression, “a closed mouth does not get fed.” The expression, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil,” is another common expression. The idea these two expressions have in common is an admonition to talk, to speak, and to ask for what one wants. This is advocacy. This is what you must teach your children to do. Children need to learn how to advocate because when advocacy by children is on point, it is admired and respected. When advocacy by children goes wrong, children look rude, disrespectful and in many cases, are punished.
Children Advocating in Action
The following is an example where my little twin had to advocate for herself recently. I sent notes to both girls’ teachers telling them not to put the girls on the school bus because I would be picking them up. The big twin’s teacher got the note and followed the request. The little twin’s teacher was unexpectedly absent and the substitute did not see the note addressed to the teacher. As a result, at the end of the day, the little twin’s substitute teacher tried to put her on the school bus to go home.
The little twin refused to go. She said to the substitute, “I am not supposed to go to bus line. My mom wrote a note. I am supposed to get picked up today.” The substitute would not listen, would not pay attention. The little twin continued, “My mom wrote a note. I am supposed to go the pickup line with my twin. My mother is picking us up today. You have to read the note.” The substitute still would not listen. The little twin refused to move. She would not go to the bus pick up line.
Coincidently, the big twin’s teacher walked by and saw what was happening. That teacher told the substitute that the little twin was correct, there was a note and that the little twin needed to go to the pickup line. When she saw me later, the big twin’s teacher told me what a good job the little twin did standing up for herself.
As this story shows, your children must learn to advocate for themselves. There are a great many times and places when it will be necessary for your children to stand up for themselves and work to get their point of view across. A child who does not know that advocating for herself is an option may permit people to run over her all the time.
A child who does not know how to advocate for herself may be overly aggressive and fight when merely talking would get the job done. A child who knows how to advocate for herself will take the steps necessary to get her point, needs and desires known to those with whom she comes in contact. A child who knows how to advocate for herself will be happier because she learns how to work in the world and with the world instead of being alone in the world.
Take action now to teach your children to advocate for themselves. You will be glad you did. Never forget that anyone can be a great advocate for their children. Stay tuned for the next article in the How to Advocate for Your Children series: Know What You Want.