Every parent wants two things for their kids: they want their kids to be accepted and affirmed socially, but they also want their kids to feel free to be who they are. Unfortunately, sometimes, those two desires don't actually match up. Sometimes our kids are forced to navigate tough expectations from those around them.
This year we are teaching students that different isn't wrong; being UNIQUE is a way our differences make us stronger. The unique qualities that your children have are likely some of their most worthwhile traits and teaching your kids to embrace who they are is one of the most valuable lessons we can give.
It's easy for kids to make the connection that if everyone is doing it, or liking it, or talking about it then it must be right. Conversely, if they're the only ones who like something, it will be hard for them not to pick up on subliminal messaging. We have the unique ability to step into our kids' world and demonstrate that different and wrong are not the same thing.
- If your child has a unique quality that truly is beneficial tell them why.
- Share your unique perspective, if something that they do or like can be utilized as a strength help them see how.
- Photograph your students doing the things they love and then look through these photos with them. If they're good at something you will be hard-pressed to find a better way of affirming them. By clearly treating their skill as a valuable asset you're proud of, they likely will be too.
Be cautious talking about people who may be “different” because it could directly create two negative consequences for your children:
- It will reinforce the idea that you don't mean everything you say about the value of unique individuals and,
- It will also demonstrate that the world is not a safe place and those who aren't like everyone else need to hide that fact. . . even from you.
Even silence in the face of gossip or negative comments will model a perspective that standing up for others is not the right thing to do. If you are present for negative talk, calmly and kindly shut it down and respond the way you would hope someone would respond if it were you being criticized behind your back. Allow your kids to see the value of being unique; it is a skill that they will be able to utilize in virtually every context for the rest of their lives.
I leave you with one of Albert Einstein's best quotes: “Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”
I am looking forward to celebrating all of the UNIQUE students, UNIQUE learning opportunities, and the UNIQUE things that make Evendale a UNIQUE place to learn.