In Step number 5 we talked about quieting a critical voice inside, now we’re going to help your child engage and listen to another voice inside, a very helpful voice -- intuition. The Voice by Shel Silverstein does a great job describing intuition:

Your intuition is connected to you at the deepest level. It is your judgment for what is right and wrong for you in a given situation. We want our children to stay in touch with their intuition because it acts in their best interest at all times. 

ShelSilversteinIntuition lets them know that a friend isn’t treating them how they want to be treated.  Intuition says no to that offer of alcohol or drugs. As our girls and boys become independent adults and leave home, it can actually keep them safe.  It’s her intuition tells her not to go upstairs with that drunk boy at the fraternity party. 

So, why would engaging and trusting their intuition even be something we need to teach our children? If we were rabbits, you wouldn’t need to teach your bunny child to run from a wolf.  They would know by instinct.  So, why do our human children need to be taught to listen to their gut?   

Fitting in

Our children they need intuition lessons because they are constantly overriding their intuition to fit in with friends or society.  Often it’s our inner critic with all of the shoulds that drowns out our gut by thinking, "We should be nice, we should not get angry, we should fit in."

Our adolescent kids are learning to walk that razor thin line between being themselves and fitting in with their friends, every day. And, it’s hard to get this balance right. People that want to fit in are masters at adaption. We compromise our intuition to stay securely surrounded by people all the time. And, when fitting in becomes our default setting, not listening to our gut becomes normal.  This is how we can lose touch with what we think and feel. 

What you do to help them stay in touch with their intuition

So, what can you do to help our kids stay in touch with their intuition, in touch with themselves? I think we should engage their inner voice in conversation early and often.  What do they think?  What do they feel?  What do they want?  And why? What do they think about the amount of time they spends on social media?  Does he want to go to the dance, or is he doing it because his friends want to?

If you get them used to locating and valuing their own intuitive feelings and opinions, you can keep them aware of what they think and feel, keeping them rooted in their convictions. The next step is to make it okay to stand up to keep themselves in the picture.  They need to be comfortable not adapting herself to the pull of a situation when out in the world.  This will serve both boys and girls well at that fraternity party. The boys won’t feel the pressure to score that evening, and the girls will be able to sense the boy that see them as a means of scoring.

Body standards that don’t serve them

When feeling like they should adapt to an appearance ideal, their little voice can decide that they don’t need to internalize the appearance ideal that the media or their friends endorse. They can notice when the social media makes them feel bad, and turn off those sites or feeds. They can politely walk away from people and discussions about diets and bodies.  

The more your kids see you model social independence, the easier it will be for them to follow your lead.

  • Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, Body Respect, 2014.
  • Carolyn Costin, Your Dieting Daughter, 2013 (2nd edition).
  • Renee Engeln, Beauty Sick, 2017.
  • Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel, Beyond a Shadow of a Diet, 2014 (2nd edition).
  • Rachel Simmons, Enough As She Is, 2018.
  • Connie Sobczak, Embody, 2014.
  • Julia V. Taylor, The Body Image Workbook for Teens, 2014.
  • Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch,Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food, 2017.