5 ways parents can help kids be themselves

(BPT) - As a parent, it's so exciting to see your children grow and develop their own unique personalities and interests. While children are young and exploring the world around them, parents are always looking for ways to encourage their children’s growth, and to support them in finding activities that inspire kids and help them express their individual differences.

What are the most positive ways to influence kids? By letting them be themselves and cheering them on, all the way.

1. Let kids choose their activities

These days the choices for classes and activities can be overwhelming, so pick a reasonable number of choices for your children, but make sure they represent a variety of interests, from the arts, science and math, sports and more — and let them choose what interests them the most. If you need to narrow down their choices, take your kids to a library or bookstore, explain where to find what types of books, and see what they gravitate toward. What kinds of books intrigue them? This will keep the choices to a manageable level. Then allow your children to sample from the pursuits that interest them, and see what sticks.

2. Encourage kids to follow their interests — wherever they go

Once your kids express an interest in something, encourage the pursuit, even if it's something you didn't expect. Your children may choose an interest that doesn’t easily lend itself to after-school clubs or classes in your area. So how can you help them? Encourage their curiosity. Help them find kid-friendly books and websites on the subjects they like. Do an internet search for local resources, or ask friends to help you find a trustworthy adult they can shadow to learn about a related career or hobby. Learn about the topic yourself, so you can help your children explore it further.

3. Help kids express themselves through their room decor

Next time their bedroom needs a refresh, let children help pick out the color and design scheme — within reason. Allowing children to choose pictures to display or to arrange a shelf of treasures and knickknacks also lets them express their interests and personal style. The upside? They may be more likely to keep a room clean if they helped to decorate it!

4. Allow kids to pick their own clothing styles

There’s no better way to help children express their own personal style than allowing them choices about what they wear. Within an acceptable budget — which can also be a learning experience — go to your favorite store and let your children choose some of their clothing, within guidelines you set ahead of time (such as needing a certain number of shirts or pants for school days). Again, if the options are overwhelming, limit them, but still allow a choice. Ask, “Which one of these three shirts do you like best?” Shopping for kid-focused clothing brands like OshKosh B’gosh means you know that whatever they choose will be a perfect balance of quality, value, fashion and kid-friendly style.

5. Support kids in their efforts to help others

The internet is full of stories about kids who love to help others, from a lemonade stand raising funds for a good cause to kids doing good deeds to help out a neighbor or friend. Kids love to make a difference, and you can support their efforts as well as acting as a role model by making a difference, too. Since 2014, parents have helped the OshKosh Jeanius Campaign raise $2.1 million to help kids and classrooms, via DonorsChoose.org and Delivering Good. Through Sept. 19, you can buy an extra pair of jeans in-store or make a cash donation in-store or online, and OshKosh B’gosh will match each pair of denim with an article of clothing, and will match all cash donations up to $50,000. You can feel good knowing that 100% of the contributions received will benefit children and communities that OshKosh B’gosh serves.

Encouraging your kids to be kind, be confident and most importantly, to be themselves can be the most rewarding part of parenting. Visit Oshkosh.com for great deals on kids' clothing, and more information about the B’gosh Jeanius Campaign.

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