During the early development of a child, many changes take place in the brain that can create stress for the child. This often leads to bouts of tantrum and relationship difficulties. Children at this stage, also absorb knowledge of things and their nature, as a way to understand the workings of the universe. This knowledge of each developmental phase is always helpful in relating with the child. This would also help the child to develop safely and own their voice early .
Sometimes, a child’s infancy comes off as a lack of skill, which parents interpret as foolishness. Consequently, they dismiss the children and their opinion or feelings for the reason that they are being childish. This dismissal creates a feeling of being misunderstood on the part of the child and ultimately, leads to friction in the relationship between the parent and child.
More importantly, the child internalizes that their inherent state of being is lacking in value and this can lead to mental health issues and emotional disharmony.
Identifying a child’s voice
When children express themselves, it behooves on the parent to listen and take their feelings or opinion into consideration as that is often a metric for children to understand who they are and the nature of their being.
Feelings, opinions, choices, are the summation of an individual’s voice. This ownership begins from infancy and depending on how grounded they are with their voice, they express in the same way. According to child development experts, children learn from the attitude of the parents towards their feeling or opinion and use that as a metric to understand who they are.
The following are signs that your child is owning their voice:
When a child says “No!”
When children say ‘no’ even in the midst of giggles and laughter, listen to them. This teaches a child that their voice holds a prominent meaning and that they themselves have inherent value. Dismissing a child’s voice often plays out in the most subtle, but yet powerfully unspoken way. Adults who stand by and watch a child scream “no” even in the midst of giggle, tell the child that their voice is invalid when adults are having fun. This majorly affects the child’s ability to stand up for themselves, if need be, in the future.
When a Child Expresses “I’m Full” in The Midst of a Meal
Children have various developmental milestones and each one of them has an important significance. For a child, expressing the concept of full in the midst of a meal is a good thing and a sign of healthy boundaries to come. This singular act of knowing when to stop will help them define their relationship with themselves and others in the course of their lives.
Therefore, it is then the duty of the parent or primary caregiver to fix for a child what they can finish, if the aim of having a child clean their plate is to avoid wastage. Better to have them ask for more, than to hold them accountable for your lapse of judgment. Holding a child accountable for your misconduct is an emotional abuse.
When you make them to feel responsible for your lapse of judgment , they will spend the rest of their lives feeling shame and blaming themselves for other people’s misconduct towards them. This will in turn make them susceptible to abuse of various forms.
There are some other consequences of overriding a child’s “No” in the midst of a meal:
- It makes them unable to control their gauge and understand when they are full.
- It could also lead to eating disorders and body image issues in the future.
As a parent, you might have many reasons to override your child’s “No”, and that is okay if overriding it would be in the interest of the child. To avoid abuse and help the child to own their voice, always explain to them the reasons for your actions. This way, you do not undermine or invalidate them. A child is a full human being who only happens to come in a larvae form. Ignoring their voice is grand abuse and injustice to them because they do not have the capacity to care for their own emotional needs.
Parents have the full responsibility for caring and providing for a child’s emotional needs. Majorly because a child does not have the development needed to attend to their needs, yet. Even if the child wants to, he or she would not be able to meet those needs. To help a child own and establish their voice, you need to be able to respect them enough to listen to them.