The taking of lives has reached a crescendo – from sanctioning wars and capital punishment we are now witnessing drastic increases of killings on our blocks and in our communities. The last week of Black History Month, PS 11 held its annual Black History Month program. While the classes shared accomplishments by history makers, they also demonstrated amazing skills in dance, voice and instruments as well as spoken word. While being moved to tears by watching these first through fifth graders on stage, I remembered that on the same day at a church less than two blocks from the school, the funeral of an 18 year old male, victim of a shooting was being held. In that moment I became clear that I wanted more for those elementary school students who demonstrated such skill and joy and realizing that it’s up to parents, grandparents and community are the ones to make it happen – starting with each individual who interacts with youth on any level.
Last issue we listed four steps in developing a sense of being worthwhile, loved, capable and responsible in our children, more steps follow.
5. Allow your child to contribute. Chores are still in and actually instill in the child the sense “I can do this” contributing to a sense of being valuable. Children knowing they contribute to the household at an early age build self-esteem that will motivate achievement in school and life, instilling “Yes I Can”. Find skills and talents your child possess and create ways for them to be used. Being responsible and a sense of being worthwhile comes practice.
6. Accept your child’s uniqueness. Inability to accept differences and allowing others to define norms are major blocks in the pursuit of self-empowerment. As parents, grandparents and caretakers we have the opportunity and duty to use the time from birth to observe and acknowledge the gifts of children in our care. Think of it as preparing the child for going out in a thunder storm – not ranting about the storm but by demonstrating acknowledgement of the child’s abilities regularly, not comparing child with others and allowing child to hear you sharing their abilities with others.
Our children come through us and we are to nurture them and give the wings. If we are nurtured, we grow to express our uniqueness and contribute to the world. The seed knows what it is and what it has come to do. Our job as adults is to provide the nurturing, protect the child from the “isms” and “norms” allowing nature to provide the direction.
7. Teach Respect for Learning. Model a love for learning and not having all the answers. Read with child and learn something with child. Let child see you getting excited about learning something new. Monitor your feelings – if you discover a need to know the answer in any setting – at work or at child’s school- make a note of it. We are products of “needing to have the answers” culture…when we free ourselves we’re capable of demonstrating and transferring that skill to our children.
8. Don’t Judge, Attack or Curse. We must stop the attacks, blame and criticisms. Simply state the facts and invite a conversation where the result of action is compared to the desired result and then invite sharing why those actions happened and what could be done to prevent it from happening again. Begin to listen to your reactions to see what child is hearing and learning from you.
9. Use the same good manners that you would with an adult…Using”please and “thank you”
10. Encourage your child to pursue what they’re good at, not what you wish they were good at.
11. Teach problem solving by using problems as they arise at home. Problems will take on a different hue transferring anger to opportunities for discussion, even debate but in final analysis, feelings of accomplishments and pride and increased communication skills. For a Problem to Project outline send request to firstname.lastname@example.org
12. Stay connected to Resources – We can’t raise children in isolation. The neighbor with a child is a potential resource. Parents in your child’s school and community organizations are resources. Wherever common needs exist, resources exist. What better reason to come together than to provide our children the opportunity to further self discovery and share with others.
With these steps our children will be equipped to deal with an ever-changing world. If we model values of integrity, justice and equality in our home and community, they will be prepared to change a world sorely in need of change. Can we do it? Yes,we can!