From the moment they are born, all of us as parents know that there’s something special about our children. While we might not be able to put our finger on it yet, and while other adults might question if we really can tell the difference from one baby to another, especially in terms of personality, parents innately know that their child is unique. And, as that child grows, our suspicions become observations as we start to see our child become that unique boy or girl we always knew them to be.
Of course, recognizing that our child is unique, and then actually honoring that uniqueness, are two different things, especially when societal pressures and cultural norms begin to set in. Yes, we want our children to be different, just not too different. And, as soon as we start to think in terms of “fitting in” or “adjusting” to certain environments, the fight against our child’s uniqueness, something we once treasured and adored, begins.
But trying to fight who your child really is is, of course, a losing battle — and one that can cause much more harm than good. The more you’re able to really start embracing and honoring your child’s uniqueness, and not just when they’re little, the more you’re able to set your child off on a path where their individuality and overall well-being is protected.
By promoting your child’s uniqueness at every stage of their life, you’re able to not only boost their own self-confidence, but you’re also able to cement a strong bond with them, one that will last well into their adulthood. Honoring your child’s differences doesn’t mean that you never try to guide your child, offer advice, or discipline when an action crosses the line. Instead, it means that your child deeply understands how much they are loved for who they are, not what they do, which gives them the courage to really chase their dreams and to be honest with you, too.
Children who feel like their parents understand their uniqueness are much better equipped for standing up to adversity. And, in today’s world where kids are in almost constant contact with each other via technology, that kind of fortitude is paramount. Additionally, these well-supported children also tend to have a higher tolerance for others. Because they know that they are different, and that’s a good thing, they help others who are also different feel more confident and at ease.
How you talk to your children, and how you choose to discipline and react to their decisions, plays a big role in them understanding that being unique is a really good thing. If you’re looking for ways as a parent to help your child understand that you honor and accept their uniqueness, here are four ideas to get you started on the right path…
- Let them choose how they spend their free time. Most kids have always had their days scheduled for them. From school to extracurricular activities and what you do together as a family, kids often feel like they have little to do with the decision making. One of the best ways you can help your child embrace their uniqueness is giving them the ability to choose how they spend free time. Rather than forcing an extracurricular activity on them, for example, let them choose what they want to do and then support them as much as possible.
- Allow your child the freedom of expression. The clothes your child wears and how they choose to style their hair are all small parts of their uniqueness. And while you can’t always let them make these decisions on their own, remember that when you’re able to say yes it gives them a huge boost of confidence. It’s also a big reminder for them that, yes, you understand they are an individual — and you’re accepting of that.
- Reframe your child’s mistakes. Every child makes mistakes. But, as parents, when our child makes a mistake, we can’t help but feel like we need to do something quickly in order to remedy it. Mistakes, however, are more than just an opportunity to redirect behavior. When you help your child reframe their mistakes so that they can see the bigger lesson, you give them the ability to start understanding that their actions have consequences and that they’re ultimately in the driver’s seat — not you.