Our children are constantly making decisions. Some are good, and some of them make us question what is going on in their little heads. As they get older, they learn, grow, explore and take risks along the way. It is so interesting to hear how they reason their way through life and through a process of self awareness and discovery.
This morning I had a precious yet out of the blue moment with my daughter. She had to take a story to school and chose Marvelous Me by Lisa Bullard. In preparation, I asked her to describe the book to me. She shared that it was about confidence and embracing who you are. She then said, “Mom, it’s like a can of soda pop.” Now this one threw me for a loop and I needed clarification for this one.
“Well, mom, if you open a can of soda and you don’t drink it or share it with someone, no one gets to have the goodness inside. So you have to drink the soda and share the soda leaving it in the fridge, open, it will just go flat and all the goodness is gone. It gets lost!”
I sat their stunned. Absolutely in shock. It was one of those rewarding parenting moments where you realize something has stuck. Sometimes parenting feels as though you are constantly throwing wet spaghetti at the wall and hoping it will stick! This morning, I thought, it’s sticking!”
This authentic moment opened the door for us to talk about whether others really get to see the people we are on the inside. We acknowledged that it isn’t always easy to be yourself at school or in other community environments, and that once we get older, it becomes easier to be ‘who we are’ no matter where we are. In the meantime, it’s important to have safe places and people with whom you can always be who are, without fear of judgment.
This highlighted for me, the timely reminder to see our children for who they are. All three of my children have wildly different personalities. How about your children? Helping them develop and embrace who they authentically are, doesn’t always come naturally, especially if qualities exist that aren’t in line with the expectations of a given environment.
Being willing to embrace and empower them as who they are will increase their confidence and give them the tools they need as they continue to grow and be seen within their own right in our world.
Here are my top 5 ways to support your child’s personality development.
1. Know what energizes them. Does your child appear to be more introverted or extraverted? Beyond this personality category giving us clues as to activities they will find fun and thrive in, these personality traits also let us know what energizes them.
2. Avoid labels. Allow your child’s personality to develop without labelling its perceived elements. When we label elements openly and verbally with them, they begin to think it is ‘who they are’ even if they aren’t.
3. Avoid comparisons. It is easy to compare siblings, or even compare your child to the way you were as a child. Allow them to develop in their own right, and not in anyone else shadow.
4. Encourage curiosity through play. Play is important beyond the early childhood years. Make opportunities for free time where children can play, be curious, and build on their interests.
5. Create a safe and judgement free environment. It’s important that your child has a place to take off his or her armour. School, whether primary or secondary, is full of social dynamics that they are learning to work through. Make your home a space that does not require a filter. Allow them to be who they are.
Shifting Perspectives is a weekly conversation with Yolande. Yolande, a Canadian of Caribbean descent, now calls the Turks and Caicos Islands home and in this podcast challenges Caribbean woman worldwide to fuel themselves with diversity in the way they think, the way they work, the way they parent and the way they live.