"My son was simply not like anyone else in his class. He never topped his class and was not good at sports or anything else like most other children were - in dance, theatre or song. For many years, we wondered whether he had even one quality that was good and unique and that would help him stand out among his peers. The wait was long. And only when he was in his 5th grade, did we get to see a glimpse of this. He won the Outstanding Cricketer Award and honestly, we couldn’t believe our eyes and ears when it was announced. Tears streaming down my cheeks, I clicked 100 photos of his as he received his well-deserved award. What I realised then, was that every child is unique. Every child has his/her own blossoming point. It’s high time we as parents realized this and helped our children discover their unique qualities and nurture them."
How do you actually spot the uniqueness in your child?
1. Expose your child to a number of things over a period.
In Western countries, they follow a nice and simple routine of enrolling children in different types of classes of a shorter duration – Piano playing, theatre, quilling, karate, tennis, sailing, skating, skiing, baking and many more. But parents take care that children are not enroled in more than two things at a given point in time, with the class timings spread out well so as to avoid stressing out children.
These classes happen mostly over weekends, which helps both parents and kids to give it their 100 per cent. What is important to know is that while the intention is for children to master the skills being learnt, there is no compulsion to make children continue in everything that they learn. Children eventually drop out of things they are not comfortable with and continue with things and skills they have developed an interest in.
2. Continue with the skills/things that children show an interest in, and in which they perform well.
The key here is to watch how the child’s face breaks into a smile at the mention of a skill/sport s/he has developed a liking for. Discerning parents will know what the child has developed a liking for and continue to train her/him in that field/skill.
3. Do not ignore 21st-century skills
Parents of today, that is we, known as the baby boomers, were born in a generation before the world entered the 21st century. Things changed a lot at the turn of the clock making it imperative for millennials (children born in the 80s and after) to know 21st-century skills. These children will grow up in the 21st century and will have to carve their own niche and perform in this day and age, which is poles apart from the age their parents, that is you and me were born in and grew up in.
These 21st-century skills are different and call for dedicated inputs and practice. Skills such as reading, developing a mind for lateral thinking, thinking scientifically, learning behavioural skills to up their emotional quotient and so many more, become important in this century. We should pay attention to these and ensure that our children are being well exposed to these skills.
4. Let’s not expect our children to be Super Kids!
While most parents want their children to be All-Stars, it is unfair and unjust to heap such expectation on the young minds and young shoulders. This will only make children feel defeated as they realise that fulfilling parental expectations in every sphere of life are impossible. Instead, as parents, let’s focus on a few unique qualities in our children and nurture them. This will not only encourage our children to do better but also help them tremendously in upping their performance and happiness quotients, at the same time.
5. Never compare – remember the grass is greener on your side if you tend to it properly
We parents often tend to see what is good in other children and unintentionally turn a blind eye to our own children’s unique qualities that deserve an applause. We compare our children with other children and feel bad when ours do not make the cut in some areas of life. The sooner we realise that such comparisons are futile, the better it will be for our children. Each child has some unique quality in him/her. We need to spot it and nurture it. We need to tend to the grass on our side of the fence and watch it grow into a lush, green and rich lawn.
6. Parents, let’s not expect our children to win in areas that we wanted to win in, back in our growing days.
Parents like us had to often sacrifice a lot of things in life that were so dear to us due to lack of resources or opportunities or both. For example, if I was good at tennis, I may have had to give it up in a few years because tennis was (and is even today) an expensive sport and because my parents may not have had the money to help me continue it. In this case, I would want my daughter to learn, love tennis and excel in it. But she may not like the sport. In such cases, we parents should let things go and not expect our children to excel in things that we loved and those that our children may not enjoy as much.
7. Pay attention to what your children are doing after school
Kids today watch TV for a straight 2-3 hours or play with mobile phones, iPads and are hooked on to the digital world. It is important for us parents to see that their children use and invest their time after school effectively. It pays to invest our children’s time developing forgotten skills and interests like good old book reading, drawing, playing out in the open, cycling or experimenting with things. A good After School Program will help us pay attention to what our child is doing after school and help us to nurture his unique qualities.
Each child is unique. Let’s invest some valuable time in spotting it in our children and nurturing it! Let’s celebrate uniqueness. Let’s celebrate children.
Happy Children’s Day!