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8 Ways to Encourage Your Child To Be Themselves
Every child is unique. Many children are also very self-conscious and unsure of themselves. This can stifle their individuality before it even has a chance to develop.
There is a lot that parents and teachers can do to encourage and motivate a child to be comfortable and aware of their individuality.
Your child has many special qualities. Are you sure you’re aware of all of them?
Here are my favorite ways to encourage my kids to be themselves:
Ask for their opinion and USE it
Kids become more confident when they know their opinion matters. Ask your child if the family should have pizza or hamburgers for dinner. Or where the family should go on vacation (once you’ve narrowed it down). Or which flowers to plant in the flower beds. When they see that their opinion matters, their willingness to express their individuality grows, as well as their confidence!
Be HIGHLY supportive of their interests
Whether it’s dancing, drawing, or basketball, show them that those activities matter because they’re important to your child. Once again, you’re teaching them that their opinion is important. Help your child to be great at what interests them. You’ll foster a deep connection like no other. This might mean helping them to join a team, taking a class, join a club, or get a tutor or coach. They’ll love you for it, and love themselves more, too.
Make a list of your child’s strengths and preferences
Find ways to help your child leverage those things. Combining your child’s strengths and preferences is a great way to ensure success, build confidence, and foster individuality. Foster a growth mindset by focusing on the positive things instead of the negative and using the positive in ways to catapult their success.
Accept your child for what they are
Give up whatever vision you might have of the perfect child. I’m serious. Lose it. You’re not programming a robot. You’re raising a unique, beautiful human being. Encourage their uniqueness and individuality and leave your own preferences (ahem. limiting beliefs) at the door. You can change yourself all you like if you want a project.
Give a lot of freedom when allowing your child to select clothes
Clothing selection is a harmless way for your child to express himself. Meet the school’s dress code, but other than that, get out of the way. If your child likes to wear mismatched socks or colors, so what! Let them be themselves. As long as it won’t hurt you or put your child in any danger, let them take the reigns.
Encourage your child to be assertive
An assertive child is much more likely to express their individuality freely. Help your child to be more assertive and share their opinions and preferences openly. Encourage your child to speak up and give their opinion. Teach your child not to allow themselves to be mistreated. Every child should respect themselves and appreciate their own value. You can help make it so. If you have sons, I’m sure this isn’t an issue for you as society supports boys being confident but encouraging “dangerous” risky behaviors. Oppose to girls, where society and the media suggest they should be cautious, careful, and gentle. Confident kids give themselves permission to be bold, try new things, and express their individuality in ways timid children never will.
Avoid making comparisons
One way to damage your child’s individuality is to make comparisons between your child and others. Comparisons don’t bring about positive results. What one child is or isn’t doing has nothing to do with your child. Comparisons are for buying cars or a new tech gadget.
Show your own individuality, too
Your child knows if you’re holding back. They’re always watching you. Hello, 24/7 tape recorders and sponges! Be brave and show the world who you really are. It starts right at home with your family. Your child will ALWAYS follow your example.
They will always do as you do and almost never as you say
It’s an opportunity for you to both grow together. If you lead by example, you inherently give them the okay to be themselves too.
Everyone struggles to feel comfortable enough to be 100% authentic, including adults. The best time to begin creating this comfort is in childhood.
Help your child to show their unique nature to the world. Without a parent’s help, most children fail to develop the courage and comfort to be themselves. There’s much you can do to help your child develop fully.