Whether it’s at the hospital or in school, parents must sometimes speak up for their children. Advocating for your child ensures that their needs are met and protects their physical, mental and emotional health. In this article, you’ll find expert advice from Children’s Hospital Colorado on how to advocate for your children in different settings — plus how to teach them self-advocacy.
As a parent, one of the most important — and sometimes challenging — things you may do is advocating for your child’s physical and emotional well-being. This means you’re stepping up and taking action to support their best interests in healthcare settings, school, politics and even in interactions with other parents and kids.
Childrens' voices aren't always heard, and sometimes they need adults to speak up on their behalf. Even better, children need to see advocacy modeled by their trusted caregivers so they can learn how to effectively advocate for themselves in the future. Here, our pediatric experts share answers to questions on how parents and caregivers can best advocate for their children in every setting.
How do I teach my child to advocate for themselves?
Advocating for your child means teaching them how to advocate for themselves, and it's never too early to start teaching these skills. Sticking up for oneself is an important tool needed to achieve goals and become a successful young adult.
Begin this conversation by teaching self-awareness. Explain the importance of being able to explain your thoughts and feelings to others in order to communicate needs. Parents can put this into practice in everyday life by providing a safe space for kids and teens to talk about what they need. Problem-solving is another important skill to teach children early. Practice these communication skills by asking your child to think about what they want the outcome to be, and then help them brainstorm ways to get there. Help your child learn good communication skills and show them how to be assertive and communicate their needs and wants in a clear, calm and respectful way. Teach your child how to handle instances of conflicts with others; in particular, how to respond to negative comments in a diplomatic and confident way, even when it’s scary.
Topics include: How to advocate for your child in healthcare, at school, in social settings, and through public policy.