Teaching Students Self Advocacy at Home and At School


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Learning self-advocacy equips children with skills to confidently navigate life’s complexities. As parents and teachers, we often feel the urge to solve their kids’ problems, but we sometimes need to resist this impulse. Allowing children to try things on their own can be essential at times to their development.

Cate Reed, seasoned administrator, current Senior Vice President of Teach For America, and Possip Reporter, shares tips to allow children to practice self-advocacy and resilience.

Why should teachers and parents should sometimes “butt out” of their kids’ problems to build self advocacy and resilience? Learn why as well as some practical tips on how to make it happen.

Practice At School

Self Advocacy Teaches Responsibility

Learning to deal with problems independently teaches children the importance of taking responsibility for their actions and decisions and empowers them. When adults intervene too frequently, children may not fully understand the consequences of their choices or actions.

Tip: Give kids responsibility in the classroom. Have developmentally appropriate classroom jobs for students or chores at homes that kids can do on their own and be contributors to your school or home community.

Self Advocacy Teaches Kids to Respect Boundaries

Constant adult involvement in children’s problems can blur boundaries and interfere with their personal autonomy.

Tip: Role play difficult scenarios with students: In your classroom, have kids role play situations where children might feel uncomfortable, such as witnessing bullying, being asked to smoke, or just turning down a hug in favor of a high give. This gives kids “at bats” for tough situations in a safe environment, and reminds them that these situations are going to come up, but they have the power to control the outcome.