I once thought the technical age for qualifying my kid as a preteen began at the age of 12. Well, I was wrong. I looked up the definition of a preteen and it starts as early as age 9 (through 12). In this stage, it's significant because the kid has now shown growth in her level of independence. This includes forming her own friendships. What?! Gone are our days of me setting up those play dates with the Mommies "I" like. Now I have to deal with people, I may not have chosen to befriend, just because our daughters are besties. Yep, my little girl is beginning to choose her own friends/friendships. She's developing her own view and discovering her own voice.
In my former years (teens, early twenties) my experience hasn't always been defined with healthy friendships. Of course, it's not all inclusive, as I have friends from that era and we get along and manage well. However, in my opinion, that comes with maturity and wisdom. This is something my 10 year old doesn't have [yet]. So, when she's fighting for her independence and wants to make some of her own decisions, it's my (along with the hubby's) responsibility to give guidance.
I once watched my daughter practice a mini-presentation as part of a class assignment. She did well, from what I could overhear; but when it came time to practice in front of me it shifted. She became a little timid and began that whisper kids do when they don't want to say it in front of you in fear of it may be wrong or that we may want to change it, ya'know? I get it, but I like to encourage my kid to stand tall and project her voice. I remind her that she has a voice that is significant and deserves to be heard. I remind her that her thoughts have validity and she has the right to express them. Sure, these words are easy to say in the moment or otherwise. But it's something to watch when your kid begins to believe it. Not to mention, it's definitely a precursor to those times she'll be in need of finding that voice, specifically when it comes to peer pressure.
So with all of that said, here are 4 Ways I Teach My Daughter to Find Her Voice:
Since we are visual beings, I physically show her the posture of someone standing tall. Even as an adult, visuals offer so much value, so you can only imagine what it gives to a child.
Express Your Thoughts
My daughter is still in the stage where she is unafraid of saying what she thinks. She's not curt or crass, nor is she disrespectful. She just has thoughts she is so not afraid to share. We also make it a point to ask for her thoughts on dinner, family vacations, summer camps, activities, etc.
Make Own Decisions
I am that Mom that has released the management of my daughter's closet and dresser drawers. There are a couple of boundaries (ex. I don't want to see things hanging out of the dresser), but she has control otherwise. She picks out her clothes for the school week. Also, I never object to when she selects her reading time. Meaning, if it's her bedtime and she isn't sleepy, she can read until she's ready to fall asleep.
I tell my daughter (often) these words, "You have a voice and it deserves to be heard!" And yes, I make her repeat them back to me (often). I truly believe that repetition is the mother of learning.
I'm not the perfect Mom! I do give 110% when it comes to being the best Mom I can be and I pray it's working. In my core, I truly believe that children rise to the level of expectation we set for them. Don't you?
What methods do you have to give your child a voice?
Thanks for reading!