Empowering Young Minds Through Self-Empowerment
What is empowerment? It is a word often thrown around and has become popular slang used by many to rack up more sales and social media likes. It makes me nervous when I see children succumb to this trend and make meaningless empowerment hashtag posts.
True empowerment comes from within and does not require justification from the outside world. This is why empowering young minds is so important. They need guidance, support and structure. These are not wants but needs.
It took me awhile to realize this. Honestly, it was during a process of self-discovery that all this became clear to me. I made so many mistakes as a mom and as an educator. My children were literally my teachers! What’s the lesson in all of this? Knowing who you are and loving yourself helps to prepare you to be a better parent, educator and person.
It took many meltdowns, anxiety attacks and a few nervous breakdowns to finally get it right. Therefore, don’t beat yourself up if you find you are not getting it right. Don’t think that you are not a great teacher if you feel you’re unable to reach your students. Don’t knock yourself down if you are struggling as a parent to get your kids in line. Don’t give up, instead be inspired and take action.
Step 1: Breathe – Take a moment and just breathe. Get to a quiet space and take some deep breaths. If the tears come, let them flow, let it out and breathe some more…
Step 2: Identify the Problem & Pep-up – Grab a notepad. Sit and get quiet and have a quiet mental discussion. What exactly is the problem? Is it that your students refuse to listen when you speak? Are your children constantly fighting and nothing seems to be working? Then write three positive things about yourself. It’s important to pep yourself up so as to give yourself the strength to face challenges.
Step 3: Self-Reflection – Turn to a new page in your notepad and grab a tissue box. It’s time to dig in and face some hard truths. For me, one of biggest problems is that my two younger kids are always fighting. They are two years apart my son being the older one. My daughter is always provoking her brother and sometimes he responds by being physical which then leads to wails and tears. Full disclosure: as I write this article they had a fight earlier which motivated me to write. My self-reflection (step 3) led me to realize that when I get angry and frustrated my first instinct is to shout and give my son a hard slap. Hmmm, yup that was my hard truth, which brings me to step 4.
Step 4: Understand Your Triggers – Why do you do what you do? Why do you react the way you do? Understanding this brings you further to self-discovery which leads to taking control of your emotions and thus taking control of the situation. For me, when my son shouts at his sister it triggered memories of my past abuse. It took me back to that time when I was belittled and shouted at which made me feel small. Hmmm, that’s deep isn’t it? Yes, it is and it is totally true. I found myself coming down really hard on my son. In my subconscious my daughter was me and my son was my ex. (Grab the tissue box and cry, don’t try to stop it if it comes. Let it flow you will feel better after the release J).
Step 5: Push Forward – Once you have faced the hard truths, do the work: self-reflect and dig deep and now understand your triggers, it’s time to move forward. Consider your options. What do you need to do to get to a place where you’re mentally strong and prepared? First, revert back to your notes and re-read what you wrote at Step 2: Pep-Up. Read this out loud and take some deep breaths and meditate on it for 3 minutes.
Step 6: The Plan – Once you've filled yourself up with your pep talk and you feel ready to go on, it’s now time for ‘The Plan’. Have you ever considered counseling? Or coaching? Or joining a support group? Enrolling in a course? Mental health is so important just as important as exercise and eating healthy. It’s ok to give yourself permission to off load in a safe space and get guidance which will equip you with the tools to move forward. Some of the Best advice that I ever got was given to me in a counseling session. I had so much baggage and have been through so much trauma that it affected my relationship with my children, affected my performance as an educator, thwarted my efforts as a mompreneur and kept me from striving to be my best self.
Step 7: Take Action – This step is the most crucial step. Oftentimes, we make big declarations, draft the plan and then fail to take action. This too used to be me for many years. I talked a good game but I surely didn’t walk the walk. How do you get the courage to take action? Remember Step 2 (Pep-Talk)? Read it again. Add two more positive strengths to the 3, make it five, then add one more! Then, ask yourself this question: Why do I need to do this?
Step 8: Identify Your Why – My Why is simply my children. I want them to experience me at my best self, living a purpose-filled life so as to influence them to do the same in their lives. What is your Why?
Step 9: Be Inspired – get creative, decorate your ‘Why’ and below add your 6 strengths. Make it Bold! Make it Big! Print it out (if it’s digital) and hang it where you can see it. Take a picture whether digitally or not and make it your screensaver on your phone, your tablet, your computer.
Step 10: Take Action – Now you are ready! Take Action! Strive to be the best educator the best parent you can be, the empowerment of young minds depends on it!
Alafea Tomlinson is a mom of three and an educator Program Coordinator for Administration & Teaching Quality Assurance at Wuhan Optical Foreign Language School in China. She is passionate about ‘nurturing the well-being of parents so that they can raise healthier, happier children.’