How to Encourage Kids to Think For Themselves

First of all, it’s important for kids to know that they are loved unconditionally. This means that no matter how much mischief they get into, your love is not contingent on their actions or behavior.

Kids Are Impressionable

They are learning what is good and bad, right and wrong, important and unimportant every day of their lives. To help them make the right choices isn’t always easy – you want to encourage them to make good decisions, but you don’t want to tell them what to do. You want to be a positive influence in their lives without controlling their every move.

Kids need to know that you love them no matter what, and they should be able to feel this. I think the easiest way is just to hug them – give your child a big bear hug when they are in trouble or when they have done something wonderful.

Floods of happy hormones will course through their little bodies when you tell them “I love you,” and their little brains will begin to understand that it’s okay to be who they are.

Encourage Your Children to Express Themselves

What this means is that you should let kids try things out for themselves. Let them make choices about what they wear, what they eat, how they style their hair, etc.

You don’t need to constantly critique their choices – just let them try things on for size. This will teach your children that they are in control of making their own decisions, which will teach them how to have self-discipline later on.

Let Kids Know It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

It’s important for all people to understand that mistakes are a part of life. We all make them, and we have to learn from them in order to grow as people. You can help your children by not getting angry or overly emotional when they make mistakes (even little ones). Just talk about the situation with them calmly – tell them what happened, why it happened, and how to fix it next time.

Let Them Have Their Own Voice

Try not to influence your children’s opinions too much. Kids need to figure out their likes and dislikes on their own, so they can build self-esteem based on their personal experiences. Let kids be kids – let them play, watch cartoons, jump in puddles, etc.

Don’t do things for them that they should be doing themselves, and don’t take the fun out of life by imposing your own likes and dislikes onto your children. Teach them not to rub their victories in other people’s faces, but let them savor their wins privately so they learn humility and modesty early on.

Be a Positive Role Model

As a parent, you are your child’s most powerful role model. They learn from you by watching how you interact with the world around you. If they see that mommy and daddy work hard to do their best in everything they do, chances are they will want to emulate your behavior when they get older.

Encourage them to always do what is right, not just what is easy. Teach them that being honest and forthright are the ways to succeed in life.

Be Firm but Fair

You should know where to draw the line with your children – you don’t want to be unfair because this will make kids resentful, but you should let them know when they are crossing boundaries. It’s a fine line to navigate, but it’s worth it.

You can always apologize after you have had a moment to cool down – just don’t be a hypocrite and hold your kids to higher standards than you hold yourself.

Try Not to Overreact

Kids are going to do dumb things sometimes, like eat too many cookies before dinner or forget to do their homework. When they do these things, don’t go overboard and start screaming and yelling.

Instead of embarrassing them in public, just calmly talk to them about the situation and correct it so it doesn’t happen again. They won’t learn anything if you humiliate them, but they will if you show them the right way to act.