Encouraging Kids to Embrace Unique Individuality
Each person is unique in their own special way because that is who God wanted them to be. No one is the exactly the same and should be proud of who they are. Many children and teenagers have a problem with feeling that being themselves is the right thing to do. The stigma in adolescent and teenage groups; is that they need to be like other people. They may have the impression that if they act like a popular kid then they will be more accepted by their peers. “Just be yourself,” is a comment that is told to kids as they grow and develop. Kids may not understand what that means or how to accomplish that.
Parents who express to their children to be themselves; may get a confused response. “I don’t know how to be myself”. This topic can be hard for parents to relate to the kids and how they are feeling. As adults, we do not require acceptance to a degree as children do. Kids who do something that other peers do not do can seem out of place. These kids may feel that being themselves will not allow them to be accepted into the right group at school. A parent may not know how to relate to their kids that they are special because of who they are. It is okay to be themselves because of the uniqueness that makes them that way.
Understand Who Your Child Is
It is important to help your child understand that God made them the way they are and they should feel happy of their special qualities. Talk with your child and express the qualities that make them stand out. These qualities can stem from a variety of things. My daughter has been creative in fashion. Ever since she was little she would pick out her own clothes and color coordinate those clothes through her own style. Some people might have thought she had a mixed match style, but in her eyes, she looked good. As she has grown into a 17-year old, her style has stayed the same. Her color coordination style has improved and her love of colorful style has become a passion for her. Explore your child’s imagination and how they interact with situations. Remember the spontaneous things that your child had done when they were younger and how that continued as they got older. These things can help understand why they are who they are. This may help build their confidence, and appreciate the qualities that they have.
As a parent, it is our goal to express the creativeness of each style to help them appreciate what makes them different. When a child understands that their differences are a positive part of who they are; then they may be more encouraged to be themselves. A growing teenager is a hard time for kids to overcome. There are many stigmas among peers. Other teens want nothing more than to fit in with other kids their age. The different groups that kids have to choose from can make it more difficult for them to know who they really are. It can be even harder not to become who others expect them to be.
Encourage and Acceptance
It is important for us to teach our children to grow into themselves. Their unique personalities and characteristics help shape who they are as a human being. This type of acceptance and encouragement should allow them to be exactly who God made them to be. Teenagers and adolescents often have a different thinking pattern than adults. To understand how the child is feeling and thinking; is to listen. I am not saying to spy on your child, but pay attention when they think you’re not listening. If you’re driving your child and friends to school or to a school functioning; pay attention to their conversation. This can give you a lot of information as to the mindset of your child. This can also help you understand why your child does not feel comfortable being themselves. A parent who can learn this information about their kid can help to counteract that mindset that they have. It will help to encourage that being themselves is better than being someone they are not. The teenager needs to realize that a true friend will like them for who they are and not want them to change to be more like someone else. Being like someone else is only hurting them in the long run.
Acceptance is a hard word to swallow for teenagers because of stigma and peer influences. A reputable psychiatrist had once said, “teenagers emphasize on peer acceptance more than parent approval”. By reflecting the strengths and achievements that our kids have done and are doing is helpful to increase their individual identity. It is easier for kids to feel comfortable with who they are when we acknowledge and provide positive reinforcement to them. They need to learn to come up with the conclusion to their situation in a positive way. This encourages the kids to use their qualities that make them who they are and will advance their self-esteem to be more confident.
The Big Picture
Our kids and teenagers fear that being their selves, will set them apart from everybody else. As parents, we need to find out what our kids are thinking and how they feel about the things that make them different. They need to understand that God made them unique for a reason. That reason will be found out once they accept themselves and not try to change for others. If it helps, give them examples of role models that they look up to. This could be an actor, singer, friend, relative, or someone else. Explain to them that if that person changed who they were; they would not be who they are today. This may help them realize that their special qualities that set them apart from others are a gift. Parents can encourage their kids to express those gifts and be proud of the unique individual that they are becoming.