Early childhood development is crucial because this is going to heavily affect how they’re going to be when they become an adult. It’s not just when they’re very young, like a toddler, but even when they’re preteens or even teens, they can be quite sensitive, and their brains are still soaking up everything like a sponge. With that said, it’s important to allow a child to express how they feel and what they think. When it comes to anyone, regardless of age, one crucial thing that just cannot and should not be denied is their feelings.
Everyone needs to let out their thoughts and feelings, and bottling them up is only going to make matters worse. Just like a bottle of soda, if it’s all kept in and them shaken up, it’s going to come out, and it’s going to be messy. It’s the same for thoughts and emotions for everyone too. Sure, while therapy, counseling, and even confiding in someone like a loved one or a pet is so important, sometimes just expressing yourself in other forms can be just as good and safe too. When it comes to children, they’re searching for themselves, trying to figure out where they belong, trying to know what their talents are, what they’re going to like, and still trying to connect with their own emotions.
So self-expression is one of the best ways to make it all possible. So, with that said, here’s how you can get your child to feel comfortable enough to where they can openly express themselves.
Avoid Judging Them
It can be hard keeping your child safe, whether it’s safe from their peers, safe from the internet, and safe from all the troubles the world has to offer. But you can’t always keep them safe. Often times parents will judge their kids for two reasons; wanting the kid to be more like them or wanting to judge the kid based on safety. For starters, you should never try to make your kid like you; they’re not your “mini-mes.” Second, you can’t always protect your kid from the dangers and social stigma that the world has. Besides, if the people they trust the most are judging them, they’re going to feel even more uncomfortable expressing themselves.
Let Them Know It’s Okay to be Different
It may seem like a good idea to encourage kids to display positive emotions and stifle those that aren’t, but that can actually backfire. Children who aren’t taught how to convey negative feelings can develop problems later in life, such as unresolved anger or depression. When your child is upset over a comment someone made or because they don’t fit in at school, let them know it’s okay to be different.
Talk to them about it, and if you can relate, share a personal story from your own experience. For the most part, most kids will feel excluded at one point in time or feel like they don’t fit in. You see it in shows with the protagonist, comics, cartoons, skits, video games, and the list goes on. Most kids feel this way, so you need to remind them they’re totally fine.
Just Talk to Them
No matter how weird or uncomfortable it might be, especially if you were raised to hide emotion, you shouldn’t put this on your kid. Have a talk with them about why it’s fine to show their emotion, to express their emotions, and to even have an outlet for their emotions. There could be so many reasons why they feel the way they feel. Maybe it’s loneliness; in cases like this, you could look for getting a pet and learn the cost on this page. Maybe it’s just hormones from getting older; maybe it’s kids in their school. Honestly, the list could just go on and on. But have a talk with them, see why they feel the way they do, and see what you can do to help them out.
Encourage Them to Be Creative
Creativity is everything, and it’s something that every parent 100% should push upon their child. Kids who are creative feel more confident and have higher levels of happiness throughout their life. This is why it’s so important to allow them to be creative – even at a young age. Having them draw or paint is one of the best ways to help them express themselves creatively. However, it is also a good idea to encourage them to be imaginative in their play and try different things, such as playing with clay or dressing up.
Allowing them to make decisions about their own likes and preferences will also be great for encouraging creativity. This can be anything from what they want for dinner to what clothes they want to wear that day (even if it’s to go to the supermarket dressed as a unicorn!) or their own hairstyles. Just by allowing this, you’re opening up a whole new world to them. They’ll become more confident in themselves and will find multiple ways to express themselves. Who knows, like many of the great artists, maybe it will become a career for them too.
Create a Supportive Enviroment
This is piggybacking on not judging them from earlier. But not judging them should be the tip of the iceberg; in general, you just should create a supportive environment they’re going to need to thrive. The first step to fostering self-expression in children is to provide a safe and supportive environment where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and emotions. Make sure your child knows that their feelings and ideas are valued and respected. Offer them your undivided attention and active listening whenever they want to talk. If there is a certain way they prefer to express themselves, such as music, art, painting, dancing, or even sports, you need to encourage this. Help them get lessons, get them supplies, and cheer them on with their milestones. If their family, especially parents, are cheering them on, then this expression is going to be nothing but positive.
Embrace Open Communication
It’s not enough to just talk to them; they need to know they can come to you and communicate with you. Create an environment where open and honest communication is encouraged. Avoid dismissing or belittling your child’s feelings or ideas. Instead, ask open-ended questions to help them elaborate on their thoughts and emotions. But you need to let them know that they can trust you and that they can come to you to communicate. Oftentimes, it’s the parents that approach their kids, and for a lot of kids, this could be seen as confronting or uncomfortable. But allowing them to be the ones to start the communication and letting them feel safe and comfortable enough to trust you about sharing their feelings is so important too.
It’s Okay to Share Your Experience
You were a kid once too, and chances are, you’re dealing with a lot of stress. While you should totally express your feelings and what you’re going through with your child, you can let them know that you were just like them at one point in time. By sharing your own experiences, thoughts, and emotions with your child, you set a positive example of self-expression. Be open about your feelings and how you cope with various situations, making it easier for your child to do the same. With your guidance and support, they will grow into expressive and self-assured individuals, ready to face the world with confidence.