It’s easy to assume others share our thoughts on a subject or experience of an event. Even if we value diversity and understand difference, as parents we assume our way of doing things is THE way. It takes some unlearning to get that other people respond differently, our kids included. Our children, like each person on the planet, have their own thoughts and experience of life.
Reading about personality profiles and the various ways to ‘categorize’ types gives a window into how people react and think. (I am a junkie when it comes to personality tests, BTW.) More than a difference in approaching the world, when children experience struggle (as we see it), they may not label it as such. They might not think it’s a struggle at all.
It simply IS what is.
Take eyesight for example. As a parent, it’s difficult to notice when your child has sight challenges. If they are pronounced in a way that impacts daily life, that’s easier to see. Heh, heh. Small or gradual issues, however, are tough to spot.
Why didn’t they say anything if they couldn’t see the board in class?
Maybe they thought it looked the same to everyone else.
If there’s no reference point, or if things change slowly, the child would have to have an immense amount of self awareness and communication skill to call out changes. Or even to notice that their experience wasn’t typical.
While this can be challenging, it’s a great reminder for parents. Sometimes we freak out about differences or challenges that our kids experience. When we worry or overreact, it sends them the message that they should freak out or that they are somehow broken. Not normal.
We are all collections of strengths, challenges, and differences that make us all unique individuals.
Sometimes challenges will warrant outside support or intervention if they impact the child’s ability to function in the world. Sometimes the adults in the child’s life need to support the child where they’re at: allow them to create who they are, develop their skills, and appreciate their unique perspective. (This is actually always the case, even if interventions are needed as well.)
Our kids read us pretty easily. Even if you’re ‘hiding’ your worry about their challenge, they feel what’s going on. Your energy speaks loud and clear. Next time you jump to a conclusion or decision about how things should be, try to see things from their perspective. Even chat with them to see how they feel. If they’re not bothered, maybe you needn’t be.
Don’t let YOUR experience pre-judge their experience.
Even as I write that, I’m chuckling: That’s like ALL of parenting! It’s a balance between being the adult who knows best and allowing them to grow into themselves. Pick your battles, as they say. Help them process their experience in a way that doesn’t label it as good or bad. Let them decide. Or better yet, always look for the lesson no matter what.
Make sure you check out the Essential Mindset Shifts for Parents by subscribing to my newsletter below! It includes a few more ways to step back and focus on what matters. Until next time, make yourself a priority. Everyone benefits.