No child is the same, and watching our kids grow up and develop their personalities, grow into their own skin, and figure out what makes them unique, is quite the gift.
I never imagined my eight-year-old would eventually learn the bass and talk about setting up her own band. Or that she would sing and play songs from the back catalogue of every '70s punk rock band. It didn’t cross my mind that my five-year-old would be an avid reader, make up her own stories, and write songs. My kids are chalk and cheese. They couldn’t be more different, yet as a parent, I do my best to cherish, celebrate, and encourage their individuality. Recognising your child's uniqueness and encouraging them to be their own person has many benefits.
- It builds on the parent/child bond
- Increases our children’s confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth
- Makes them mentally stronger, increasing their ability to face challenges and battle adversity
- Encourages empathy and understanding
But how exactly can we encourage and celebrate our children’s uniqueness?
Allow Your Child To Choose
Let your little one choose the after-school or extracurricular activities they would like to do. While you may think GAA or rugby would be a great way for them to spend their Saturday afternoons, they may be thinking about becoming a Coding Master.
Encourage Their Choices
Whether it’s their choice of fashion, within reason of course, how to style their hair, or what shoes to wear, giving our kids the freedom to express themselves through what they wear can encourage their self-expression and creativity.
Create Safe Spaces
It’s not always easy to vocalise how we’re feeling, but when we are given the opportunity in a safe space, we can find it easier. Remember to do the same for kids. Just because our kids are young and seemingly free of concern, it does not mean they don’t have any worries. Create a safe space for them to come to you with anything that is plugging their mind. This way, you show them that you support them and validate their feelings.
Embrace Your Own Differences
There really is no such thing as normal, but we live in a world full of comparison and the belief that we must conform to what is expected of us. When we manage to break stereotypes and take ourselves out of a prescribed box, we can showcase our uniqueness and differences. It’s only when we do this for ourselves that we can help our children embrace their own differences.
Accept children, and ourselves, for who they are. Comment, applaud, be proud, and celebrate your child’s capabilities, how hard they try, and their idea of who they are. Celebrate their uniqueness and accept them for who they are.