In a world that is always changing, evolving, and as diverse as ever, it’s essential to help our kids understand that who they are does not impose limits on what they can do. Using National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8th) as a jumping-off point, talk to your kids about how all people can accomplish greatness if they have initiative, put forth an effort, and are willing to learn and adapt.
Equally important, this lesson isn’t just about your kids believing in themselves but about encouraging them to realize everyone has the potential to do great things. In other words, teach your kids to have an open mind.
No, we’re not talking about four-letter-words (although, watch those too). When talking with and around your children, be mindful of how you word things. Steer clear of phrases like, “Wow, I can’t believe a woman did that,” or over-generalizing, stereotyping statements like, “Asian people are so good with math.” Using language like this paints the picture for your kids that people’s genders, cultures, religions, etc., determine what they can accomplish (and conversely, what they can’t).
Even making a big deal about something positive, say a female vice president, can send the message that it’s something out of the ordinary. Therefore, instead of saying something like, “I never thought I’d see the day…” try something like, “I can’t wait to see what she does for our country.” Especially if you have a daughter, now she can believe the things she wants to do are possible, instead of feeling like she’s doomed before she even begins her journey.
Books are an incredible way to teach our kids so much, including values, diversity, and more. Choose stories that feature characters with a wide range of backgrounds and abilities, minorities, people with disabilities, and other inclusive situations. Find stories that show different people accomplishing various tasks and engaging in different experiences. Your kids will learn that things like this are not only possible, but they’re also being done every day.
Don’t just reach for fiction books; non-fiction books are also an incredible way to enrich children’s lives. Find biographies of people that resonate with your kids and that they connect to. For example, in honor of Women’s History Month, you might scope out bios of women like Marie Curie, Ameilia Ehrhardt, and Rosa Parks to share with your kids (sons and daughters!).
Of course, nothing teaches your kids more than your actions. You can tell your kids that anything is possible until you’re blue in the face; if you don’t try new things or believe in yourself, your kids notice. The result is that your kids will start to adopt the same perspective. If there is something you want to do, whether it’s starting a new business, learning to fly a plane, or figuring out how to fix a busted faucet, challenge yourself to learn how to do it. Put in the effort, fix the faucet yourself; you get the idea. It might seem small, but when your kids see you doing these things, it shows them that they can learn new things and do tough stuff too.
No matter what, remember little eyes are always watching, and little ears are always listening. Ultimately, you lay the foundation for how your kids will grow and who they will become, so pay close attention to the bricks you’re laying down. For more useful tips, advice, and support through your motherhood journey, make sure to explore all that MamaZen has to offer. Your kids have you, and you have us, momma.
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