MADISON, Wis. - The goal of the Time For Kids #BeYou campaign is to empower children and adolescents to have confidence in themselves. Self-expression, or the act of portraying ideas, thoughts and feelings, is a major part of that. And self-expression is crucial to one's development.
The foundation for self-expression begins at birth. Children learn how to identify, manage and express their thoughts and feelings through social interactions with caregivers and other important people around them.
"These interactions help shape a child's emotional, social, intellectual and physical growth," SSM Health therapist Lynn Schemenauer said. "A child's developing sense of self is rooted in his or her ability to share themselves, whether this is through their body, language, creativity or play."
Nurturing a child through this process promotes self-confidence and independence. But mistakes are also essential. Speaking out of turn, saying the wrong answer and getting mad are examples of experiences that help children learn how to navigate the world.
Although many parents would like to protect their children from making mistakes that result in negative consequences, it is often beneficial for kids to experience slip-ups to help them become more resilient.
A caregiver’s role also includes encouraging self-expression. There are endless opportunities to do this, including allowing a child some control in their dress, hair style, music choices, art, activities and play. And you should also be mindful of the vibes you're putting out.
"Children learn how to express their emotions by watching those around them," Schemenauer said. "Naturally, this means parents and caregivers play an especially important role in teaching appropriate self-expression by modeling it themselves. Modeling is the number one way children learn, and parents have opportunities to model healthy self-expression through their own language, behavior, participation in activities and interactions with others."
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