Tip No.4: Encourage your child to be themselves
From the moment our child is first placed in our arms, we look for their similarities to us. Birth parents look for physical similarities from the day they are born, and all parents and family look out for those personality traits and quirks which show us that this child is part of our family and home.
We love it when they start developing their own little personalities and quirks, but we’re not always so pleased when we see those characteristics as negative, or different, and we can struggle to cope with them. However, it is important that we encourage our child to be themselves, and to do things their way, if they are to develop a positive self-image and be happy and secure in themselves and grow to become successful adults.
“The quiet, introverted child is happy playing alone with their Lego, and may go on to be a successful engineer.”
The stubborn, single-minded child knows what they want, unlike many adults, and may go on to be a determined scientist, refusing to give up until they have a scientific breakthrough. The quiet, introverted child is happy playing alone with their Lego, and may go on to be a successful engineer. The sensitive and emotional child, happiest when playing one on one and taking on a caring role, may go on to be an amazing medical professional. The energetic, noisy child, who is always looking for things to do, may go on to be an awesome inventor, a successful salesperson or even a West End star!
“Studies show that confident children generally suffer less anxiety, do better in school, have increased resilience and happier and healthier relationships.”
Expecting your child to be something they’re not, will undermine their confidence, which can be very damaging in the long term. Studies show that confident children generally suffer less anxiety, do better in school, have increased resilience and happier and healthier relationships.
Encourage your child to be themselves.
How can we help our children to develop as individuals and be themselves:
– Nourish your child’s spirit and personality and be positive. Don’t label them as shy or talkative, but identify them as thoughtful or a great communicator. Using these words when talking to others about our child can have a positive impact on how your child views themselves.
– Encourage effort, not perfection. If both your children put the same amount of effort into their work, but one gets an A and the other gets a C, congratulate them both on the effort they put in and for doing the best that they can. So many children and teenagers suffer extreme anxiety due to unrealistic expectations of them and develop a fear of failure which can prevent them from even trying. Celebrate the process, not the result.
– Help your child pursue their interests. Be proactive and seek out opportunities to encourage their passions and develop their talents. By supporting your child with their interests, you are helping them to value and believe in themselves. Find a club, competition or local organisation that your child could be involved with to develop their interests.
– Encourage your child to share their emotions, both positive and negative, without judgement. Communicate with them when they’re ready and help them identify what triggered them to feel that way. Discuss with your child ways in which they can deal with those triggers to better cope next time.
– Provide a ‘safe place’ for your child if they want to be alone. It may be their bedroom, a bean bag in the sitting room, or a desk under the stairs but as long as it is somewhere they can go to be themselves for their own time out. Respect that space if they want to be left alone.
– Allow your child to problem solve. Don’t immediately try and sort out every problem or issue your child has or fight their battles for them. By allowing them to find solutions themselves, you are giving them the opportunity to grow as individuals. Be available as their support team if they need it providing love and patience.
– Give your child responsibility. Giving your child their own tasks and jobs helps to make them feel valued and important. There is a big fear of putting even more responsibility on our children’s shoulders but it doesn’t have to be big chores; it could be something as small as helping out with the laundry once a week or taking the rubbish out. Tasks should be age appropriate but don’t be afraid to stretch your child’s ability.
– Let your child make their own mistakes. You should be prepared for mistakes to happen along the way, but every mistake made is an opportunity to learn. As Henry Ford said: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”. While it can be hard not to rush in and fix your child’s mistake, they will learn a lot more from their mistake if they have to make it right themselves or do it again from the beginning.
– Be patient! Probably the hardest thing of all for us parents is staying patient but it is very important that we try. Guide, advise, comfort and support, as much as your child needs it, but allowing them to process the situation themselves and deal with things in their own unique way will give them the biggest boost of all.