Tip of the Week

August 2, 2021

While the world was watching

Self-advocacy, noun

The action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests.

When Simone Biles withdrew from competition in the Olympics for mental health reasons this past week, she put self-advocacy front and center on one of the world’s biggest stages. Stepping away took immense courage. While the world watched with anticipation for another legendary performance, she stood tall and made a courageous decision not for others but for herself. 

By stepping away in such a public forum, Biles showed us the power, importance, and significance of self-advocacy. She mentally and physically could not compete so she did probably the hardest thing she’s ever done: she allowed herself to step away and stop competing. 

We can learn so much from watching people like Simone Biles. Self-advocacy is a critical life skill and one that too few us do well or to the extent that we should. Here are a few ways to help foster and promote self-advocacy with your child:

  1. Remind your child that seeking help is a sign of strength and confidence, not weakness. 
  2. Don’t rush to solve your child’s academic problems. When they’re stuck, ask “What can you do to move forward?” 
  3. Model self-advocacy. Many students don’t know how to write an email to a teacher or which questions to ask. It’s a learned skill and we need to explicitly teach it. 
  4. Praise even small efforts at self-advocacy and reinforce its positive outcomes.
  5. Watch Simone Biles’ press conference together and let them see that even the G.O.A.T. needs to advocate for herself when she needs to. If she can do it on such a grand stage, they certainly can too.