I'm constantly reminding myself that my son is his own unique individual self. He's got a great personality, and marches to the beat of his own drum. He's not the most social creature, but he's funny and smart and so very cerebral; there's always something going through that big intricate brain of his. I love all of this about him; but, sometimes, that translates to him not feeling super enthusiastic about meeting new people or finishing out the baseball season or leaving the comforts of home for an adventurous outing.
Often, these situations leave me frustrated, and I have to think about things from his perspective. At a recent baseball game, he stopped paying attention and started picking flowers in the field. I started to yell out to him and stopped myself. He knows he's not the most athletic or the most social or the most outgoing; and this most likely makes him feel inferior. I'd never want to add to that. So this is how and when I remember to build him u; to focus on all the amazing things that make my awesome one-of-a-kind kid, my awesome, one-of-a-kind kid.
Jennifer Lynch, author of the children’s book Livi and Grace shares her tips on how to help kids embrace their unique selves.
Remind them that differences make people special. While it’s natural for children to long to fit in with their peers, Lynch says, it’s also important for them to understand that their individuality is what makes them unique. “Differences are interesting and life enriching,” she says. “Part of the message is that you should appreciate the diverse traits in everyone you know, and also appreciate what makes you special.”
Talk to them about the ways in which they shine. “Kids like talking about themselves,” Lynch says. “So get them involved in a conversation about what they are good at. Maybe that is sports. Maybe it is writing. Maybe they make good grades or they are a good big brother or friend. Whatever their special talent is, explore it with them so they know that there is something they do well.”
Encourage them to help other kids feel good about themselves. Young people can feel empowered not only by embracing their differences, but also by providing support and being a friend to others who are different.
“When you help a child pick out positive things about themselves,” Lynch says, “they begin to focus on that, not the hurtful things that weigh so heavy on their hearts and minds.”
About Jennifer LynchJennifer Lynch, author of the children’s book Livi and Grace (www.jenniferlynchbooks.com), is an educator and child advocate who serves as a guardian ad litem, a person appointed to represent a child’s interests in a court case. She has worked as a special education teacher for an elementary school and as a preschool teacher. In addition, Lynch created the You Are Good brand of T-shirts and other products for sale and for donations. Thousands of the shirts have been donated to children and teenagers in the system. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas A&M University.
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