Kids inherently compare themselves to others. This is inevitable! In fact, it is imperative that children learn the ability to compare and contrast, identify differences and spot similarities. However, it becomes harmful when they begin to shed a negative light on what they perceive to be different about themselves.
Kids will naturally grow to idolize certain qualities of others around them. Some children may fancy darker hair colors while their hair is light, some may pine to be taller while they are small. Just like some adults, kids will want what they don't have. As their brain grows and they begin to make observations, the comparisons they make become glaringly obvious.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Start with this activity. You, as the adult, have the ability to ask questions if you're child is having a hard time coming up with answers, "why don't you think there is anything unique about your hands?" Try to focus on non-physical attributes, avoiding statements such as "your hands are unique because they are beautiful", but instead remind them that "your hands made grandma happy yesterday when you used them to help her up the stairs."
Actively listen. If your child expresses their insecurity about a particular body part, ask what it is exactly they don't love about themselves. Take their response and help them see the positive. For example, if your child says: "Kids make fun of me because my hands are bigger than everyone else's." Make them see all the wonderful things they can do with this perceived insecurity. Avoid criticizing. Many of us, including myself, may have a knee-jerk reaction and say, "no they aren't!" or "don't say things like that." Instead, help them understand what makes them amazing, "your hands actually helped me make that delicious dinner last night" or "those hands right there helped your team win the basketball game last weekend. You didn't think they were too big then!"
Nothing will be fixed overnight, but activities such as these will help open up the conversation in an organic way and can serve as a visual reminder that your differences are worth celebrating.
Mommy, Am I? Children's Book
Something else that can help is the children's book, Mommy, Am I?, that tells the story about a little boy named Theo who goes to the zoo, and with every animal he passes by, he believes he is becoming one! "Mommy, I have big hands, am I a lion?"
Capturing the essence of a child's imagination, this book sets the bar high when teaching about self-love and celebrating all that makes you different in a funny and light-hearted way. Bonus: Find out if Theo is really an animal or a little boy in the end!
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