A Seat At the Table: Part 2 Self Esteem and Maturity
Self Esteem and Maturity are two key components to being a successful adult navigating today’s world. So, why not do everything in our power to foster and cultivate it in our children during childhood. We do this thing with children sometimes. Actually, we do it often. We give them a pass. We say they are not mature enough to handle situations. Little do we know, that we are inadvertently saying something more. In actuality, we are saying that the kid is incapable in some capacity. So us adults need to handlethings them. Now, don’t get me wrong. A kid does not deserve a seat at EVERY table.
There are things that their underdeveloped brains cannot reconcile. But I challenge you to think that these instances are rare. There are many tables a child should have a seat at. Including any table where people are discussing things that will directly impact the trajectory of their lives. We can help them to see the bigger picture of life while helping them to feel good about themselves and confident.
Fostering Self Esteem and Maturity through Shared Decision Making
Think about how you feel when someone asks your opinion about something. When you feel like your input matters and makes a difference. Feels good doesn’t it? That same feeling is what children get. Except maybe times 100 when they are asked their opinion. And honestly, their opinions may surprise you!
Using Meetings to Build Self Esteem and Maturity
As it relates to a child who is having some difficulty socially, emotionally, and/or behaviorally this process is crucial. When we have meetings or discussions about how best to support a child with any number of issues the child should be present. For part of, if not the whole meeting. For younger children, it may be that they are brought into the meeting so what the adults have discussed can be explained. If they are not present for the whole meeting it is still important to give them time to reflect and ask questions. Also, if the child is particularly bold, they may make suggestions. So be prepared to listen and discuss.
Be careful not to shut down the child’s suggestions or questions. Do not pass them off as being immature or not up to par with the discussion. Engage in thoughtful and meaningful conversations with the child.
With older children, they should be present throughout the whole meeting. I love including older children, say 12+ in these meetings. I find that not only does it foster self esteem like we’ve been saying all along. But it also helps to keep the adults on task and speaking about the child in a way that is strengths based. Having the person you are talking about in the room forces us to think about how they are receiving the information. It keeps us on track with what the actual goals are. Also, it serves to empower the child because the goals are a reflection of their struggles, and not just the struggles of others who also may be effected.
All in all, shared decision making helps self esteem because decisions are being made with the child rather than being imposed on the child. They are empowered to take control of their lives.
Using Meetings to Build Maturity
Building Maturity is a lifelong process for most people. What is maturity anyway?
When your child is sitting at the table it conveys to them a sense of responsibility. Undoubtedly one of the key features of maturity is being able to be responsible. Also, to take responsibility for one’s actions. So, making a plan to address a child’s challenges and barriers not only empowers them, it allows them to feel a sense of responsibility for ensuring that the plan works for them.
Furthermore, it causes them to hear some of the logic that the adults around them use to make decisions. Hearing the different connections that adults make, and how they reason will help them to develop those skills themselves.