“I’m Different.” Helping a Child Cope with Being Different from Their Peers and Demonstrating Acceptance

"I'm different." Helping a Child Cope with Being Different from Their Peers and Demonstrating Acceptance. Episode #21 - Raising Kids Who Can Cope

Episode #21 in the “Raising Kids Who Can Cope” Series

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We all want to raise kids who are emotionally and socially intelligent and are able to recover from disappointment to grow stronger every day into adulthood

Adolescence can be hard on anyone but for children who are told they are different or feel that they are don’t fit in it can be exceptionally difficult. There are countless messages a person can be told that they don’t fit in with society. Often times it is due to their sexual identity or orientation, other common messages a person is told they don’t belong are due to their race, they have mental illness, they don’t have the right body type, or their poor.  These messages can come at a person from the media, their peers, their community and even their family.

The negative messages that an adolescent is given telling them that they are bad or less than others because of something they have no control over have immediate and lasting effects on their confidence and self-worth.

Self-worth and confidence in ourselves is important at any stage in life. While navigating the sometimes difficult path of adolescence these qualities are essential.  We can nurture our child’s confidence by helping them to recognize their feelings and to learn from their successes and failures; as well as setting reasonable expectations and giving them genuine praise when appropriate.

Children who are dealing with being different from what they’re told is normal need additional support from us. First and foremost they need to know that they are loved and supported. We can help our child by being there to listen when they are frustrated and fight against discrimination. We don’t want to blame our child for being different or telling them just to stop being who they are or to somehow hide it.  Hardest of all we also need to look inside ourselves and recognize our own prejudices and stigmas we carry around and how that affects our child.

Raising Kids Who Can Cope is a 28-part series developed to build skills, knowledge and awareness in adults who play a role in young people’s lives. It is brought to you by Jackson County UW-Extension and Together for Jackson County Kids. Find out more at Raising Kids Who Can Cope.

References

Ginsburg, K. R. (2011). Building Resiliency in Children and Teens. Grove Village IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

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