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How to be more authentic with children

Team StoryWeavers|January 18, 2022, 11:26 IST|

“Authenticity heals. It’s real, but messy.”

― Darlene Lancer

Being authentic is important. Many parents want their children to be who they are and show their true selves to the world. However, like all other things, authenticity also needs to be modelled by the parents. In today’s article, we are going to explore how parents can be more authentic with their children. 

Tips to be more authentic with children

Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl’s book, The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids, mentions tips for parents to be more authentic with their children. They are as follows:

  • Start by being honest with yourself. Parents can start by defining their emotions. It can help you express your true emotions and help you go after happiness. It will also help you teach emotional honesty to your child.
  • Answer with honesty. Parents can give age-appropriate answers to the child’s questions, while staying honest and sincere. Children can pick up on dishonesty and can often sense that something is wrong. Sincerely answering questions in a language that the child understands is one way of being authentic with children. 
  • Share your experiences. Children love listening to their parents’ stories, how they felt and what happened, especially when they are heartfelt and true. Sharing lived experiences gives children a better understanding of who their parents are and reassures them that they will be okay, even when they are feeling scared right now. 
  • Make honesty a family value. Put more emphasis on honesty than anything else in the house. Create an environment at home that encourages children to be honest about who they are, what they are feeling, and what they did. Teach them the importance of vulnerability. Forge an honest relationship with them. Do note that this only works if the parents are accepting, warm, and non-judgemental. 
  • Read them all kinds of stories. More often than not, parents avoid reading stories with unhappy endings to children. However, it is important to read all kinds of stories to children to teach them about sadness and tragedy. It also allows children to ask questions about these less-explored emotions and situations. 
  • Engage in genuine praise. Focus on the effort put in by the children rather than the outcome of the situation. Ensure that your praise is received well and encourages children to do better next time. Engage in Kazdin method of praise to reinforce desired behaviour. 
  • Use the power of ‘for me.’ Using the words ‘for me’ while narrating the experience allows children to see that different people may feel differently in the given situation. It is important to highlight your unique perspective of the situation to encourage them to be more authentic. It tells the child that their experience need not be similar to that of the parent. 

Being authentic is important, and it needs to be reinforced. It allows children to stand up for themselves and others, when required. It also teaches them to take advantage of their unique strengths and accept their areas of development. Most importantly, it allows them to be more confident in themselves. 

Authenticity cannot be built in a day. It will take some children weeks, months, or even years to act authentically. In the meanwhile, stay consistent, be patient, and you will see results sooner than later. 

What are some ways you encourage your child to be more authentic? Share your tips and queries in the comments section below. 

Reference:

Sandahl, I., Alexander, J. J. (2016). The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids. United States: Penguin Publishing Group.

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About the Author


“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She wholeheartedly believes in the quote by Arthur Rubinstein that says – “if you love life, life will love you back”. She is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grades 2 & 3, as a part of the Teach For India Fellowship. These little girls have a special place in her heart, and when she writes for children, she writes for them!

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