At-Home Learning is an early childhood education resource (for ages 2-8) providing families, educators and community partners with at-home learning activities, guides, and expert advice.
When I was growing up, I didn’t come across any children’s books or media that showcased characters who looked like me addressing the insecurities I faced. I felt alone and can only imagine how kids today must feel with the constant messaging from social media, peers, television, etc. influencing their perceptions of beauty, success and career choices.
It’s important to help kids embrace their uniqueness at an early age. “Teaching kids self-love and embracing their uniqueness helps to foster a healthy personal identity and positive self-concept,” says psychotherapist Jenny Devenny, who is also a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). “Nurturing a child’s individual personal identity strengthens social, emotional and cognitive development and provides a strong foundation for success when they enter school and particularly in adolescence when comparisons are unavoidable.”
Here are some ways parents can help kids embrace their uniqueness.
Challenge Negative Thoughts and Language
Teach children how to challenge negative thoughts and language that undermines their belief in accomplishing a goal or mastering a certain task. When a negative, self-doubting comment is made, quickly tell them how to shift the language into a positive, truthful and more affirming statement.
Example 1: You are watching your child play volleyball with some kids from school.
Negative comment: “I’m not good at playing volleyball.”
Positive, truthful and affirming statement: “I do an amazing job serving the ball and also passing the ball to my teammates.”
Example 2: Two siblings are working on an arts and crafts project at home.
Negative comment: “I don’t like how mine came out. It doesn’t look as cool as his.”
Positive, truthful and affirming statement: “My brother and I show our creativity in different ways. It’s cool to see us work on the same project and come up with a new approach every time we work together.”
Example 3: Erin, the main character of the children’s book “I Am Unique!,” wants to try out for the leading role in her school’s play. When she shares her goal with her best friend Madison, Madison tells her she can’t try out for the role because princesses don’t have birthmarks.
Negative comment: “I can’t play the leading princess role because princesses don’t have birthmarks.”
Positive, truthful and affirming statement: “I can play any role I choose. I’m a great actress.”
Countering a negative thought or statement in a positive affirmation helps to reframe your child’s mindset, increasing their mental toughness. Having open and honest conversations while helping them to embrace their uniqueness encourages…
Read More: Tips to Help Kids Embrace Their Uniqueness and Practice Self-Love | Education