The Uniqueness of Each Individual Child
By PCY Assistant Principal, Carrie Hetzel
Challenge Success believes that our society has become too focused on grades, test scores, and performance, leaving little time for kids to develop the necessary skills to become resilient, ethical, and motivated learners. Most parents would agree that raising resilient, ethical, happy children is the goal they strive to meet. Challenge Success encourages parents to define success on their own terms. Most families come together and talk about values they find important. They decide how they are going to spend their time, and set limits to be sure they are not overscheduled and taking care of themselves, mind and body. As family goals are determined and worked towards, we must also remember the uniqueness of each individual family member.
Parents are very quick to discover how different their children’s personalities present as they develop and grow. In my role, I often hear parents say, “My other child is the complete opposite!” While we might hear and say this all the time we must ask ourselves, how much do we encourage each child’s uniqueness? It is important that each child feel valued for their special gifts and qualities they have and how they will serve them well now and in the future. The Child Development Institute has come up with seven ways to encourage a child’s uniqueness. They are as follows:
Take time each day to observe your child up close and from afar. Look for changes. Look for new skills. Experience your child as a person by interacting with them.
2. Listen and Ask Questions.
Discovery includes truly listening to your child. It means inquiring about how they think and feel about events in their life. The more you can listen with openness and acceptance, they more you will discover and at the same time affirm your child as a unique individual. This is the time to show interest and understanding, provide support, and volunteer guidance, but only if requested or when it raises serious concerns.
3. Observe and Comment.
This is the fun part of parenting – watching your child be a kid. Where they’re playing a game, drawing, playing music, performing, learning a new skill, showing off a physical feat or attempting comedy, all you have to do is watch, enjoy, and celebrate with a smile, applause, and a pat on the back. Provide praise and encouragement.
4. Engage In Child-Directed Play.
Playing is good for people of all ages. It reduces stress, promotes health, and is just plain fun. When playing with younger kids as well as older children and teens, let them direct the play. Join in and have fun. Get in touch with your inner child and enjoy along with them
5. Expose Your Child To Many Different Activities.
Children should be exposed to all types of opportunities to try new things such as sports, music, art, drama, science, reading, visiting parks, the forest, the beach, museums, hobbies, and anything else you can think of. Encourage them to give it a try. Praise them for trying new things. If they become interested, encourage them and support them in their pursuit. If they feel like giving up after a while, find out why and encourage them to keep going when things get harder, or they become bored or lose interest. At some point, we as parents may have to let them quit even when we think they could be successful in the endeavor.
6. Show Patience and Understanding.
No matter the situation, patience and understanding are always good to maintain. While dealing with children can be frustrating, being patient and showing that you understand how they are feeling helps a lot. Try to model and coach patience along with encouragement in the affirming of their abilities. Talk them through the process step by step and cheer them along the way.
Words of encouragement can be as simple as saying “I love you” and providing a smile or a pat on the back.
8. Love your children unconditionally.
The basis for healthy emotional development is a sense of being lovable. Make sure your children know that they are loved for who they are, not only for how well they perform. Value the uniqueness of each child.
When children feel loved and accepted for their distinctive personality and traits, they can and do more. They are not blocked by the feeling of, “I can’t” but are encouraged to try because they know you think they are remarkable just they way they are.