Empowering children to thrive in our competitive and challenging world?

Where should we begin if we want our children to be able to cope in this fierce, competitive and frenetic world? Let us explore the very first step.

We live in an increasingly competitive and challenging world. If we think life has been too demanding on us, think about what your children have to face in the next 20 years.

In Australia, the richest people who live an enviable lifestyle and own properties are those above 65. The young adults, especially those between 25 and 35 are struggling to own even a one- bedroom flat in the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne. In Singapore, we are a little luckier as our young people can fall back on the HDB scheme. They are practically assured of a home when they get married. But this does not mean that they will remain contented for long. The aspirational Singaporeans want to upgrade to condominiums and bungalows.

Housing is one major problem our children have to deal with when they grow up. But the more pressing problem we face as parents is to find ways to fortify them, strengthen their resilience and tenacity so that they can better cope with bigger problems in life.

Where should we begin if we want our children to be able to cope in this fierce, competitive and frenetic world? Let us explore the very first step in empowering children.

Step 1: Acknowledge Emotions and Empathise

Firstly, we need to acknowledge that children have a right to their view of things. We should not demand that they try and understand and do as they are told simply because what we say is good for them. In this age of social media, there are many competing gurus out there, and we need to connect with our children before they are hijacked by the outsiders.

When your children get upset and sulk or turn uncommunicative, what should you do?

Be gentle and empathize with them. We do not need to offer solutions as yet. What the children need most at this point is for you to acknowledge their grief and say that you understand they are not happy about something. Such empathy will enable your children to feel relieved and they may start to share their problems with you. This builds trust and enables you to bond with your children.

To empathize does not mean that you agree with the children’s reaction to the situation or their perspectives. But it does mean that you are putting your child in a comfortable position for both of you to discuss the matter calmly and reasonably.

Emotionality and rationality are not incompatible. We can be emotionally rational and rationally emotional. What we need to do is to strike a balance and to guide the child in using both the mind and heart in coping with the stresses and challenges of everyday living.

How does acknowledging the child’s perspective develop emotional intelligence? Find out on the next page!

Developing emotional intelligence

As the children experience the soothing sensation of being understood by their parents, their neural pathway is strengthened and it encourages them to calm down and try to figure out the perspective that had caused them so much anxiety. It will help them to learn how to cope with troubled emotions as they get older and become more independent. They may begin to learn the meaning of the adage “We may not be able to change the situation but we can change our perspective”.

Additionally, children who have regained balance and equilibrium from experiencing the empathy of their parents, will in turn be able to empathize with others. Such an ability will help your children to make friends more easily and enable them to connect with others better.

It is not easy for parents to be patient, kind and gentle all the time as we face similar pains and griefs ourselves every other day. But let’s take courage that even as we fortify the spirit of our precious children, we are learning to cope with the same set of problems ourselves.

In the next article I will discuss how allowing and encouraging expression of feelings is fundamental to the wellbeing of your children.