Encourage your children to be who they are EVEN if it’s not who you want them to be:
While I acknowledge this may seem simple in theory, my work bears witness to just how difficult a message it is to both cultivate and send to our children. As a parent, psychotherapist and school adjustment counselor I am often faced with adolescents that have created unrealistic ideals or unattainable goals for him/ herself. This usually manifests with depressed, withdrawn, angry or even self-harming behaviors. These children are usually the ones that spend hours on their homework assignments, are diligent and participating learners and strive to uphold an academic standard that makes us as parents and educators proud. However, when the goals are unrealistic, when a student’s expectations of him/ herself are unattainable, the expected excellence comes with a price. They often compare themselves to the ideal or message from their parents, their peers, siblings, and media icons, instead of accepting who they are at the moment. The stress and anxiety of not achieving their goals, can prevent them from learning, participating in class, socializing, and in the end can compound into a much bigger and more dangerous issues of worthlessness and poor self-esteem. Encourage your child to be happy with whom they are, to live with their inherent gifts and to focus on their innate strengths, even if you really wish they would or could be something different. Be proud of their accomplishments, even when they are small and seem insignificant to you, I assure you they are not small to them, and let them know that who they are is good enough for you! This will go a long way as they navigate through their own experiences and expectations to one day find a comfortable place in our ever changing world.