As parents we strive to make sure we express to our children how unique they are, and how that uniqueness makes them so very special. And it does! Those special curls, the cute dimples, the lovely freckles, the way she gets the hiccups every time she laughs too hard, whatever it might be, our kids are so very unique! And teaching them this simple truth is so important for their self-esteem and their self-love. Not to mention the fact that if they really see and love their uniqueness, they are far less likely to be bullied, peer pressured, or fall into the trap the brand marketers love to set which says, “You’re only special if you buy, wear, or use OUR product!”
But owning one’s uniqueness doesn’t always come easy, and our children learn more sometimes by watching how we treat ourselves and others, then what we tell them about themselves. How many of you have had your child come to you and say they are going to work as they get in their pretend car, in their pretend work clothes, carrying their pretend briefcase? My daughter did this to me one day as I was making her breakfast and when I asked her why she was walking on her tip toes, she told me she was wearing her high heels! She had been watching…All those days I went to the office, in my office clothes and high heels, carrying my briefcase, she watched!
Imagine what they are seeing if we aren’t good to ourselves in the mirror, even once. Or if we were to say negative things about others…Let’s say you see someone you know and they cut their hair very short. What if in front of your child you said, “Wow, her hair does not look good like that at all!” Your child just witnessed you criticizing someone else and will practice that themselves on other people or maybe worse, they will begin to question what you don’t like, or what they shouldn’t like about themselves. This can all happen from one, seemingly simple “harmless” statement. Kids are smart and they know the quickest way to learn about their world is by the people closest to them so they emulate. And why not, “grown-ups know it all and if a grown-up is doing it-it must be the way it’s done.”
So while we are so busy and consumed with teaching our child how wonderful it is that they are so unique and special, in the same breath all that teaching can be undone if we were to criticize ourselves or others. Why? Because how we can we say our child is so very special because they are different, if we then criticize others for being different?!
This is why I believe that when we teach our children how wonderful it is that they are different and there is no one else like them, we should also be teaching them that everyone deserves that same respect. I mean, as parents, we want others to accept our children as they are-their beautiful unique selves and we want our children to celebrate and appreciate their own uniqueness. But then shouldn’t we all be willing to do that same thing for everyone? After all, everyone is someone’s child!
“So if being different is what makes us unique, we have more in common with others than we may think!” The Elle Grey Story, UNIQUE
especially if we are told negative things while growing up