Raising children is one of the most fulfilling experiences in life. As with most parents, you probably feel very close to your children, because after all, they’re a part of you. Parents tend to see their own children as extensions of themselves. Of course, this is true to a certain extent.
However, it’s also important to recognize that your children are also individuals. Regardless of their maturity levels, your children are “budding” adults, interesting and evocative in their own special ways. Even very young children have their own wants, preferences, and sense of self.
As children grow and thrive, they develop their own interests. For example, you might have a son who loves to finger-paint and a daughter who prefers drawing. One child takes particular pleasure in riding bikes while another would much rather sit and read a book.
To raise children with healthy self-esteem, it’s a good idea to allow children the emotional space to express themselves. If you encourage your children to be themselves, they’ll grow and bloom into fascinating, independent human beings.
Try these activities to get to know and appreciate your children as individuals:
1. Spend one-on-one time with them. Allow them to choose what activity to share or game to play. Observing your kids as you play together is a fun way to learn who your child really is.
2. Listen. Although you most likely do a fair amount of talking to your kids, the other side of it is to listen very carefully to what your children have to say. Children make concerted efforts to talk about what they like, and when they talk about what they like, they’re sharing what’s important to them.
- When you know what’s relevant to your kids, then you’re truly getting to know them.
- Establishing easy communication early will help make the teenage years go more smoothly.
3. Initiate conversations about their interests. Inquire what happened today on your child’s favorite television show. Again, listen intently to how your child conceptualizes what occurred.
- Take the time to engage with your kids each day, regardless of their age.
4. Invite your child to play “house” with you. Allow them to decide who will “be” the mom, dad, brother, sister, or other members of the family.
- Encourage them to set up the situation however they like. They might even act out something they’ve seen you do at home.
- Playing house with your children encourages them to express themselves, which helps you really get to know them while enhancing their self-esteem.
5. Give your child choices. When children are allowed to choose, their choices show something about them as people. You can learn about your children by noticing the choices they make.
- For younger children, set it up so they can choose from 2 activities: for example, take a walk to get ice cream or go play miniature golf.
One of the most enriching experiences you’ll ever have as a parent is getting to know your children as individuals. Try some of these strategies to draw out your child’s personality. As your children grow, you’ll learn more and more about who they are.