|* Malala Yousafzai|
Her precocious wisdom & worldliness have been astounding all who hear her. On the Daily Show, host Jon Stewart was speechless after she spoke & then offered to "adopt her." As a psychologist interested in both parenting, education, motivation, & overcoming adversity, I have been thinking about what helps a child become resilient, confident & brave. Here are a few things that stand out for me:
1) Build your child's self esteem by recognizing & believing in your child's gifts. Every child has innate gifts. One of a parent's most important tasks is to recognize & believe in your child's gifts & abilities. In an interview with Diane Sawyer, her father, himself a teacher & political activist, felt that Malala was special from birth. He chose the name Malala from a Pakistani song.about a young hero whose "words can turn worlds around." Although it may not be from birth, look for your child's strengths & tell them what you see in them. How you see them helps them build a positive (or negative) self image.
2) Enhance self confidence by treating your daughters and sons as unique capable individuals. Her father also spoke about accepting that his daughter was a person equal to any boy. In a society that differentiates between the sexes, he treated her & his sons as equals & gave them equal opportunities. He even founded schools for girls.
3) Strenghten your child's ability to stand up for their convictions by exemplifying what you believe. Malala's father practiced political activism & spoke up in public for girls rights despite death threats by the Taliban. He taught her to speak up for what is right for everyone even when it may be dangerous to you personally.
Malala's mother, on the other hand, did not go to school, does not know how to read & has avoided being photographed out of respect to her religious traditions. However, in her own quiet way she has supported her husband's progressive liberal beliefs & backed Malala's educational & social activist endeavors.
4) Teach your children the power of education as the key to economic & political freedom. Malala's father exposed her to school from when she was a toddler, taught he both to love learning & to recognize the power it gives you.
All children have unique strengths & can become like Malala with the love & encouragement of supportive parents.
* Image Credits
|This image is a work of a United States Agency for International Development employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.|