Giving Your Child Voice
Copyright 2009 by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D.    All Rights reserved    E-Mail: ragrossman@voicelessness.com
If I asked you what children need in order to be psychologically healthy, you would probably answer: love and attention.  Of course, you would be right--love and attention are essential for every child.  But, there is a third  psychological need critical to the emotional well-being of children: "voice."

What is "voice"?  It is the sense of agency that makes a child confident that he or she will be heard, and that he or she will positively impact his or her environment.  With this sense of agency comes the implicit belief that one's core has value.  Exceptional parents grant a child a voice equal to theirs the day that child is born. And they respect that voice as much as they respect their own.  How does a parent provide this gift?  By following three "rules:"

   1. Assume that what your child has to say about the world is just as important as what you have to say.
   2. Assume that you can learn as much from them as they can from you.
   3. Enter their world through play, activities, discussions: don't require them to enter yours in order to make contact.

I'm afraid this is not as easy as it sounds, and many parents do not do it naturally.  Essentially, a whole new style of listening is required.  Every time a young child says something, he or she is opening a door to their experience of the world--about which they are the world's foremost expert.  You can either keep the door open and learn something of value by asking more and more questions, or you can close it by assuming you have heard everything worth hearing.  If you keep the door open, you are in for a surprise--your children's worlds are as rich and complex as your own, even at age two.
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Voicelessness and Emotional Survival

Giving Your Child Voice
Voicelessness and
Emotional Survival