The Power of Self-Advocacy

A big part of becoming a successful, independent member of society is being able to advocate for oneself. We all need to know our own worth, and we need to feel confident enough to speak up for what we need in life.

This is hard for lots of people - adults included - so it makes sense that we teach our children the skills from an early age and continue practicing with them until they can confidently communicate with those around them.

What can you do as a parent? Plenty!

A note about learning differences

Self-advocacy is a critical skill for all children, but it is especially important for children with diagnosed learning differences. We believe they are just that - differences, not deficits. We also believe that talking to our children about their differences, even at a young age, is empowering.

For example, if your daughter is diagnosed with ADHD, you may choose to discuss that with her. Let her know that she learns differently than many of her peers and what those differences look like. She may find it challenging to concentrate on some tasks, but be able to feel hyper focused on others. With time and practice, she will figure out a variety of strategies to help her concentrate when it’s hard.

The important thing is being transparent with your child and letting them know that their differences should be celebrated. With anything that brings struggle, there is also a side that brings strength. The work lies within understanding oneself, recognizing our needs, and being assertive enough to speak up and ask for them.

Giving children language

Self-advocacy should start when children are young, and the strong emotions little ones feel provide the perfect opportunity for learning. Help your child name what they are experiencing, and suggest what they might do about it.

“You are feeling angry because it’s time to leave the park. Maybe asking for a hug could help you feel better.”

“Putting on your coat is making you feel frustrated. Would you like to ask for help? I could show you a trick to make it easier.”