All parents want to raise a happy child who has positive self-esteem and a strong sense of self. A child who knows him or herself well and is proud of their uniqueness. All children are special and have their own set of unique talents, interests and personality traits and your child’s uniqueness should be celebrated.
If your child understands this, he or she will be able to stand up for themselves and not feel the pressure to change to fit in with others. It’s important for children to have this understanding from a young age, so by the time they reach the often-difficult middle school years, they are well-equipped with the foundation that makes it easier to resist peer pressure and keep a healthy self-esteem.
So, how do you help your child discover what makes them unique and celebrate your child’s uniqueness? Here we share six ways to encourage and celebrate your child’s uniqueness
Do you want your child to be similar to you? Would you love your child to participate in the same activities?
Maybe you loved being in the school band. You were such a skilled musician that you often earned yourself solos, you met your best friends through your participation in music and you learned important life lessons through this activity. You’d love your child to be interested in music also so you could bond through this shared interest and help your child in developing their talent.
Or, maybe it’s the opposite, you considered yourself shy and awkward growing up and you don’t want your child to repeat the same (what you consider) mistakes. You want your child to seize every opportunity and to be a social butterfly.
Now, take these goals and dreams for your child and throw them out the window! I’m being dramatic…of course. All these dreams for your child are well-intentioned. And, wanting the best for your child shows what an amazing parent you are but you can’t force your dreams and goals on your child.
She is her own unique person and deserves to follow her dreams and goals. Follow your child’s lead and support any interests she shares with you. Allow her to explore these interests. As a parent, you should be there as her biggest support, offering encouragement and feedback but not asking her to live out your dreams, even subliminally.
If you struggle with this, remind yourself that you want your child to be happy, and she will have the best chance of happiness if she follows her own unique dreams and goals. There are so many roads leading toward happiness, not only the path that you have in your mind. Your child is growing up and deserves to make their own choices and learn along the way, through both her successes and failures.
As children grow up, they aren’t sure what activities they’ll enjoy nor do they know all the options available to them. If you receive an email about participation in robotics club or Girl Scouts, enthusiastically offer this opportunity to your child.
Explain to your child what you know about the activity. If you have limited knowledge about the activity, that’s okay, be honest about that. It’ll be fun to search online or watch videos to learn about a new activity together.
Even if your child chooses not to participate in the activity, learning about something new broadens his knowledge and you are demonstrating that you are happy for him to participate in any activity he’d like to try. You want your child to choose the activities that make him happy and are geared toward his unique interests.
Not every child is a good student. School is difficult for many children and causes them feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. We don’t want this difficulty to create negative views of school which can have a detrimental effect on your child’s self-esteem.
Focus on what your child likes about school and encourage that. If your child is a great artist, encourage this unique talent. Explain to your child that school is hard for a lot of children but she has a unique interest and talent she can focus on in school.
Go further in this discussion to connect her talent to careers she can pursue in the field of art, from being a painter, to a graphic designer to working in an art museum. This shows your child you’re proud of the unique and special child she is. She will still need to work hard in school, but she has a unique talent that she can focus on.
When your child focuses on her talents and knows she can choose a career in this field, it gives her talent a stronger meaning and purpose. Your child’s uniqueness becomes more special to them as they see a positive future through developing her talent, rather than trying to fit into a mold that doesn’t feel natural to her.