317: Helping Your Children Advocate for Themselves // Dr. Traci Baxley


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Our school year has been in session for a few weeks now, and since my kids are finally all settled in, I’m feeling a nudge to reach out to their teachers this next week to check in and see how I can support them and support my children. This is what it looks like to advocate for your child…to build that teacher/parent relationship…and it has been especially important for me with my child who is neurodivergent. For this particular child, I always write a personalized email towards the beginning of the year to each of their individual teachers, introducing myself and my child, reminding them of their 504 accommodations, and letting them know that I am there to support them if any issues come up. 


This kind of proactive advocating for my child has proven to be so helpful in ensuring their success, but it’s also important that both of my children learn how to advocate for themselves…because I can’t be with them 100% of the time, and they need to know the skills for how to get their needs met and talk to adults when I am not around.


That’s what today’s encore episode is all about, and I have to say, this is one of my all-time favorite, most impactful conversations I’ve had on 3 in 30. This episode originally aired in the fall of 2020, and my guest is Dr. Traci Baxley. She is a professor, an author, and a belonging advocate who has been an educator for over 30 years, with degrees in child development, elementary education, and curriculum and instruction. She is also a mother of five children, and she is passionate about teaching them how to courageously advocate for themselves. 


In 2021, Dr. Baxley wrote a beautiful book called Social Justice Parenting: How to Raise Compassionate, Anti-Racist, Justice-Minded Kids in an Unjust World. She says that her mission is to “create space for belonging at home while raising children who create belonging in the world.” 


3 Takeaways from Dr. Baxley on Teaching Children to Advocate for Themselves:

  1. Spend time getting to know your child and helping them reflect on their strengths and weaknesses. You can do this by asking them what they did well and what they want to improve on after a sports activity or assessment at school. Get them thinking about their own progress in a matter-of-fact way.
  2. Support children in articulating their needs by giving them a thorough understanding of their unique needs–whether those are diagnosed conditions that you want them to understand about themselves or simply just personality preferences and learning styles. I LOVED her idea of building out a little curriculum about ADHD so her son could understand it better and accept that his limitations weren’t a personal failing but were the result of a biological condition and he could ask for support. 
  3. Teach children to brainstorm who could be on their support team or what resources might help them. And as I mentioned in the interview, if it helps them to actually plan it out, write it out, or even ask the support person in advance, then help them do that. You may have to practice with them what a conversation would sound like if they have to approach a teacher to ask for their accommodations. Role play and help them feel comfortable and safe utilizing their support team.


>>>Are these tips from Dr. Baxley on helping your children advocate for themselves helpful? Would you add anything to these takeaways?  Tell us in the comments below.




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Mentioned in the Episode



  • BetterHelp: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Use the code 3in30 to get 10% off your first month of online therapy!
  • Brooklinen: Use code 3IN30 for $20 off your online order of $100 or more


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