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3 Steps to Teach Your Child Self Advocacy Skills

As my daughter interviewed the Dean of the Athletic Training Department at a potential college choice, I found myself uncomfortably looking down at the table, at the floor, or out the window. I was doing everything I could to avert the eyes of the Dean as she tried to engage me in the interview process. She must have thought I was extremely rude at that moment. Much later, after the interview, she confided she had never been interviewed by a potential student before. Usually the parents had done the interview and frequently the student wasn't even present. She had been quite impressed with Brianna's ability to advocate for herself. (Proud mom moment!)

My daughter had prepared an extensive and thorough list of questions to ask at every potential college interview. I had been helping her make these lists of questions for doctors, teachers and coaches since she was eight.

Self-Advocacy is the ability to understand and effectively communicate one's needs to other individuals.

Self-advocacy is an essential life skill that will be used for a lifetime. There are 3 steps to helping your child be their own effective advocate.

  1. Help your child get to know themselves. You can do this by asking questions that cause your child to self-reflect. For example, by asking your child what would be a make school easier, they might discover that they are easily distracted at school.

  2. Help your child to get clear on what their needs. By asking them what they need (as opposed to telling them what they need), they might come to the conclusion they need to sit in the front row at school.

  3. Help your child get what they need. Here are some areas to work on:

  • Know when, who and how to ask for help.

  • How to make good eye contact.

  • Make request clear and concise.

  • Make a request with out blaming or complaining.

  • Listen to and understand the other person's point of view.

  • Negotiate for wants and needs.

  • Be persistent when road blocks occur for example, the other person gets intimidating.

  • Be resourceful. If that person or situation doesn't work, ask your child, "What else can you try?"

Click Here for a Printable list of "10 Ways to Help Your Child Practice Self-Advocacy"

Parenting Practice: Pick an area where you can turn over the responsibility for advocating to your child this week. Teach them the skills in order to be successful.

TESTIMONIAL: "Thank you very much, Kathryn. This is very useful since I do not do a lot of the things listed. Now I am starting to realize that I try to completely control his life (not mine though, which is funny:-)), and am pretty much living his life for him.

After our coaching session today, I was able to find the answer to the question I asked you, which is why this keeps happening every year, when am under the impression that I have addressed it each time. I now know it is because I have never really equipped him to deal with it, he does not feel it for himself because I take control and try to address the situation each time. I talk to the teacher, I tell them what he will do, I tell my son what he will do!!! And then I wonder why he does not know yet how to address this by himself :-) Like my son says, wow, just wow !!! This is a revelation! "-A

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