Teaching Your Kids It’s OK to Stand Out Instead of Fitting In at School

In a world that is constantly on the go and where following the crowd is presumed to be paramount to survival, how can we make sure that we are remaining true to ourselves and leading a life of authenticity?

This week on Episode 116 of Productivity Paradox, I’m sitting down with Sarah Herron to talk all about the importance of self-acceptance and body positivity so that we can make sure we are leading lives that resonate with us on a deep and powerful level.

For those of you who are not familiar with Sarah, I want to encourage you to tune in this week and pay close attention… because her story is truly amazing! As a woman born with a physical disability, Sarah has become a huge advocate for spreading messages of body positivity and confidence to women around the world through her female-focused community called SheLift.

When she isn’t doing speaking engagements or sitting down for interviews, Sarah is leading her life full of adventure and is focused on helping girls and women of all ages find courage and power by embracing the parts of themselves that make them unique and incredible in their own way.

So today, I want to dive into the idea of finding power and courage by focusing on something that I think is incredibly important in the world today… which is our kids!

When so many of us feel pressured to try to fit in, at work, at home, and even in our social lives, how can we make sure that we’re not inflicting the same pressure to fit in onto our children? It can be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I am certain we can all rise to the occasion to conquer head-on… because all of the unique parts of ourselves and all of the diversity that exists in life is truly what makes the world go ‘round.

So in that light, let’s take a look at some of the ways that we can empower our kids and teach them that it’s perfectly OK to be different by encouraging them to play to their own individual strengths to stand out from the crowd, instead of trying to fit in.

 

5 Ways to Empower Your Kids to Stand Out

 

1. Encourage Kids to Follow Their Interests—

One of the best ways that we can encourage our kids to find courage to stand out from the crowd is by allowing them to carve out their own path by following the activities that interest them most.

Instead of encouraging your son or daughter to join a sports team because all of the other kids their age are playing sports or to join an schoolteacher club because all of the other kids their age are engaged in after-school clubs, ask your child some of the things that they might like to do in their spare time.

By encouraging them to let their own interests lead the way for them, you’re sending a message that it’s okay to go against the grain and explore activities that play into the kind of individual that they see themselves as, instead of blindly following the crowd “just because”.

 

2. Help Kids Recognize (and Celebrate!) Their Unique Gifts—

Maybe your child was born with an incredible aptitude for science and mathematics, or for sports, or for writing… Instead of trying to get them involved in all kinds of activities that might not be aligned with their natural abilities, encourage your kids to seek out things that allow their own unique gifts to shine.

If your kid is a gifted athlete, encourage them to find an after-school sport to join that peaks their interest… If your kid is a gifted writer, invest in some books on writing, introduce them to other gifted writers in your area, take them to book and poetry readings in your neighborhood, and encourage them to join a young writer’s group where they can share their ideas and build upon their existing skill set.

Whatever you can do to recognize your child’s own uniqueness and to foster their interest in what makes them who they are moving forward will make a huge difference when it comes to empowering them to embrace their individuality so that they can stand out from the crowd and truly shine.

 

3. Let Your Kids Change Their Mind—

Maybe your child was interested in ballet last week, but this week they really want to try out for the basketball team or join an after-school art class?

Instead of forcing your kids to remain in the activity that may have interested them last year, for example, let them know that it’s perfectly okay to change your mind once in a while – it’s a natural part of life, and it’s important when it comes to understanding who you truly are at your core.

After all, how often do you have everything all figured out as an adult? If you’re like the rest of us, then chances are… You change your mind about things fairly often! Hardly anyone has all of the answers, and it’s important to teach your kids that they don’t need to have everything figured out all of the time either.

So rather than forcing your kids to stay “stuck” doing something for “doing something’s sake”, let them know that their happiness is important and should always come first. If an activity doesn’t feel right, find something else that does!

 

4. Teach Kids It’s About ‘Finding the Right Fit, Not Fitting In’—

Let’s face it… Wanting to fit in is a perfectly natural part of growing up. But instead of staying so focused on trying to fit in with the in-crowd, teach your kids that life shouldn’t be about doing what’s necessary to land a seat at the popular table at lunch.

What’s important is finding others that resonate with you on a deep, meaningful level. So in that respect, encourage your kids to focus less on what everyone else is doing and more on what they want to be doing; teach them to seek out kids that they have mutual interests with.

Is your child interested in music? in art? in athletics? Encourage them to find other kids their age who gravitate toward the same activities and to try to establish friendships with them instead.

The more support your children feel that they have from their peers, the easier it will be for them to embrace what makes them unique so that they can stand out as the confident, courageous, and powerful individuals that they were meant to be.

 

5. Embrace Your Own Quirkiness as a Parent—

It’s no secret that children learn a great deal about life and how to navigate the ups and downs that come with it by watching their parents and guardians… So, if teaching your child that it’s okay to stand out from the crowd is on your agenda, then it’s imperative that you embody that message in your own life.

Focus on ways that you can convey the message that being different from your peers is totally awesome and be sure to explain to your kids why you think that embracing what makes you unique is so important in the first place.

If you’re not embracing your own quirkiness and doing your best to stand out from the crowd yourself, how can you possibly expect your kids to? Keep that in mind moving forward!

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Have any tips and tricks of your own on encouraging your kids to embrace their individuality? I would love for you to share them in the comments below! …And if you haven’t had the chance to tune into my conversation with Sarah Herron on Episode 116 of the podcast already, be sure to check it out for even more insight on the importance of embracing your own individuality so that you can lead a life of happiness, self-confidence and authenticity.

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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton