Coco Chanel said that in order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different. Last month we spoke about ways to help your kids fit in and this week we are continuing the conversation and talking about ways in which we can ensure they stand out:
- Be an attached parent
Figuring out how involved you should be in your child’s day-to-day needs is possibly one of the greatest parenting challenges around. We’ve all heard about helicopter-parenting (too involved?), sleep-training (leaving them to cry it out) and everything in-between. The consensus among experts however, is that a child that feels loved is a confident child and a confident child will stand out in the world. “Responsiveness is the key to infant self-value” agrees Dr William Sears, writer of the best seller: The Baby Book. “Baby gives a cue, for example, crying to be fed or comforted. A caregiver responds promptly and consistently. As this cue-response pattern is repeated many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times during the first year baby learns that her cues have meaning: “Someone listens to me, therefore, I am worthwhile.”
Attachment parenting is not about doing everything for your child. It’s about your child knowing that you are there always. Involved and interested.
- Give your child responsibilities
Giving your child responsibilities is really a win-win situation. He learns from an early age that hard work pays off and you get the dishes done! Find something your child enjoys and make it their task. Setting the table. Sorting the laundry in lights and darks. It is a proven fact that letting them pack their own lunchbox significantly increases the chance that they will actually eat it. Consistency is key: teach them that the job still needs to get done even on days when we don’t really feel like doing it. Don’t complain, just do what needs to get done and reap the awards. A pet is also a good way to teach this kind of responsibility and so is a vegetable garden. Life lessons in a fun way and you can eat it afterwards. (The vegetable garden… preferably not the pet.)
- Don’t let them waste too much time doing things they are not great at…
I have a confession that might not at all surprise those who know me. I am not great at sport. I’ve been a bit of a runner for most of my life but other than at… not really my thing. My ball sense sucks. My coordination: not great. My lack-of-significant-height might also have cost me a few netball team placements throughout the years. Yet I spent years of my life running after a ball with a stick trying to shoot a goal and deserve my place in a high-school hockey team. I have tons of things I am pretty great at but for 4-8 hours a week throughout high school I felt inadequate and mediocre. Everyone participated in some sort of team-sport so I kept at it but it made me miserable. It didn’t teach me about being a good loser or a gracious winner. Honestly I learned everything I needed to learn about team spirit and having each other’s back when we sneaked out of boarding school a few evenings a year. So instead of wasting all that time doing something you hate…
- …rather let them invest their time in things they love.
It is very difficult to excel at something you are not passionate about. But here’s the thing. Let’s say a child loves drama and music but struggles with math, what do we do? We enrol for extra math classes, of course. Maybe 50 years ago this was the right approach but these days you can make an amazing career out of pretty much anything you are passionate about. Think twice about the math extra classes and rather enrol them in drama school. Allow them to spend most of their time on the things that makes them most happy.
- Be their own personal cheer-leader
We are lucky to live in a society where our children are generally encouraged to embrace their unique attributes. Being sporty is cool and being a nerd is also cool. Support your child even if what they are standing out in is not quite what you imagined. Psychologists agree that a child who feels loved will excel. Let’s find the unique space our children fit in so they can stand out!
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