How can you help guide kids to listen to their own voice?
When kids are young, the voices that guide them are their parents or caregivers, especially their mom. Mom’s voice serves as a direction and a conscience, and research shows that kids are keenly able to distinguish between their mother’s voice and that of strangers. But, it all shifts when they reach adolescence.
A research team at the Stanford School of Medicine observed the reactivity of the adolescent brain to the sounds of different voices and discovered through fMRI machines that their brain is extra sensitive to the voices of people outside their parents.
They are less interested in what their parents (mom especially) have to say, and their brains are literally extra activated when they hear other voices.
While they shift from listening to their parents to listening to their peers, the most significant and healthy shift a kid can make is ultimately to listen to their own voice.
If a kid can start reflecting on their own values, principles, beliefs, and priorities, then they’re well on their way to mature adulthood.
Here’s 3 ways you can guide a kid to listen to their own inner voice:
- It’s important to express to your kid that it’s possible. Let them know how important it is to be thoughtful and reflective throughout their lives, not to mention throughout the day.
- You can model to them what it looks like by sharing stories about your everyday life and the moments you decided to take a step back and listen to your own voice.
- Be on the lookout for opportunities to celebrate your kid when they choose to listen to their own inner voice. When they share a story with you about their day, ask them why they made the choices they did. If they say something like, “Well, I just didn’t want to do that,” then affirm their choice to listen to themselves.
Chances are, all of our kids are going to be put in situations with their peers where they’re tempted to make a choice that would harm them or at least violate their values.
If we can help them recognize the importance of listening to their own inner voice rather than seeking the approval of others, they’ll be better equipped to make a healthy, wise choice.