What to Empower so Your Kid Can be Successful in Life

Last week I wrote about entitlement, the viral attack on kids today. I traced the origins of this virus and the negative effect it has on the family, especially kids. You can check it out here. I vowed not to leave you hanging and promised this week to prescribe an antidote to entitlement.

The Antidote is Empowerment

If you want to protect or heal your kids from the virus of entitlement give them daily doses of empowerment. The definition of empower is – “to give or delegate power or authority to; to give qualities or abilities to.” The antidote of empowerment is giving your kids “age-appropriate” authority to master their world. It involves a two-step process I outline in my book Bringing Respect Back: Communicating Without the Conflict. It’s easy to remember:
  1. Step in to instill confidence and train your kids to perform a task.
  2. Step back and empower them to perform.
Repeat processes 1 and 2 until your kid establishes it as a habit. The key here is to understand your kid has power. It can be used to control or manipulate as means to get their way. Or, it can be used to increase their autonomy and respect for others. In short, empowerment is fostering the development of the human will in a positive direction.
  • Empower kids to think, feel, speak, and act for themselves
  • Express their will in a benevolent manner.
  • Use power to benefit me and others.
This is what sets empowerment apart from entitlement and why it is the perfect antidote! Your kids can become successful in life when you empower them in these four areas.
Empower their minds to think for themselves
Kids benefit when parents encourage the use of their problem-solving, creativity, and imagination skills. A key method is to instill confidence in their ability to think and find solutions. Parents who figure things out for their kids establish a dependency dynamic in the relationship. Allow your child time to figure things out. If they’re struggling you can guide, but by all means, don’t think for them! [Tweet “Kids benefit when parents encourage the use of their problem-solving, creativity, and imagination skills.”]
Empower their voice to express themselves
Kids today text to talk. Consequently they do not fully develop the ability to communicate. I recommend you introduce your kids to the practice of conversation. Every day make time to converse with your kids. I’m not talking about the tasks that need to get done, but about topics that help you connect. Adopt a position of natural curiosity and talk about their day, their thoughts/views on what is going on in their world. Empower your kids to voice their feelings. You may need to coach them on intensity, but they need to say how they feel without being judged. It is important that kids develop their voice so that they can learn how to set boundaries with others. Finally, teach your kids how to interact with others. Coach them how to greet people, look them in the eye, and pay compliments.
Empower their hands to be productive
Your kids need to learn basic life skills. One of my earliest memories is my mom teaching me how to fold my clothes and make my bed. At age 7, my dad taught me how to take out the garbage and it became my chore. As I grew, more followed. Teaching your kids age-appropriate skills is crucial to healthy development. It builds self-confidence, self-esteem, and promotes autonomy. It also helps kids understand that one of the primary ways of belonging in a family is to make a contribution.
Empower their hearts to care for others
Entitled kids focus primarily on themselves. When they do for others it may have selfish ends. Why? Because their hearts do not have an outward focus. Our job as parents is to empower the hearts of our kids to care for others. It begins by teaching them to show parents and siblings respect. Make this a rule in your home. Model it first. Require it next. Establish consequences when it is not shown. Again, you can learn more about how to do this by reading my book. Teaching your kids to care for others develops their empathy skill. Without empathy kids will struggle to develop close relationships in childhood through adulthood. However, if you empower their hearts, your kids will be successful in life.

Now it’s your turn

I identified the virus of entitlement and delivered the antidote of empowerment. Think about your kids. Do one or more suffer from the virus? Where can you begin today to apply the antidote?