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Parenting - The Owners Manual

Tips and information for parenting kids aged 0-12. See Thursdays Blog for Parenting Teens.

Children Need to Discover Who They Are

Monday, July 18, 2011

Children are just little people who will grow up and become independent from their parents with talents and desires of their own - that is, if they are allowed to express themselves as children.

An important part of childhood is self-discovery, being able to try out new things, to choose their own clothes and to decorate their rooms in a way that pleases them. This is how they discover who they are and what their likes and dislikes are.

By age 10 most children will readily tell you what their favorite color is, a preference that will likely stay with them throughout life. By age 12-15 they can give you a list of their favorite hobbies as well as a list of activities they don't feel successful at. These burgeoning talents and preference are developed at a young age as they are allowed to explore the world around them and to use their imagination to construct their personal world.

A child who is not allowed to express themselves, who is held back from trying new things or who is manipulated to accept the choices of their caregiver will not fully develop their own true potential and talents. They may grow up not knowing how to please themselves; instead they look to the world outside of themselves for validation (like a proverbial social parent). In a sense they never fully mature as an autonomous individual and may feel as if the apron strings were never completely cut.

It is not a good idea to attempt to mold our children into "mini me's." Eventually they will resent the manipulation and rebel, or worse yet, they will grow into adulthood never having confidence in who they are or in their ability to make personal choices.

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posted by Karen Dougherty, 5:20 AM

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