How You Can Help Your Child Form Their Own Identity

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Children develop their identity by learning to know what they like about their environment, their way of dressing, their way of relating to others and the world.


By Sally Sacks

 

Children
develop their identity by learning to know what they like about their
environment, their way of dressing, their way of relating to others and the
world. In order for children to develop an identity of their own, parents, the
children`s earliest programmers, must sponsor this development of identity by
being aware of your child`s actions and behaviors, and what those tell you
about him/her.

 

 
For
example if your child has a cluttered room, and has to save everything, you
probably have a sentimental child that doesn`t like to part with things. If you
cleaned your child`s room and threw away “the junk” that they had too much of,
you might be ignoring who your child is as a person.

 
Children, not unlike
adults, show their identity in many ways

 
They
show it through their pictures in their room, through the friends they like to
associate with, through their dress, food choices, activity choices etc. They
are giving us the clues about who they are, as well as taking from us certain
things they admire, and incorporating those into their identity. Many parents
due to a lack of awareness forget to ask children important questions that can
give clues to their child`s belief system, and value system, and really help
them to sponsor a healthy sense of self in their child.

 

 
For
example, Miriam didn`t like her daughter`s taste in clothing, because it was
different than hers, and she wasn`t taught in her family to have her own
identity. Every holiday she would buy her daughter what she liked, and the
daughter wouldn`t wear it. Mom would be disappointed and her daughter felt
guilty. Leigh, the child, read magazines that mom disapproved of. Mom would get
angry that her daughter was reading the magazine. However Mom never thought to
ask her daughter what she liked about the magazine. That would give a clue as
to why she was reading it, Mom simply didn`t know to do this.

 
I
asked my son the other day what he liked so much about sports, and got such
clues to his personality. It was great. He liked the teamwork, the goal
setting, the movement, the success. This not only tells you about sports, it
tells you about the child. Emotional awareness is becoming aware of who your
child is, and offering them support in growing that self into a very well
formed identity that will offer them the ability to make positive choices and
decisions in their lives.

 

 
To sponsor this healthy
identity you need to:

 
    Be aware
    of your child`s actions and behaviors and what that tells you about them.

     
    Ask
    questions about why they chose a topic, or picked an outfit, or read a
    certain book or magazine. Ask objectively without judgment.

     
    Give
    them choices about activities they would like to participate in.

    Offer
    them food and clothes choices, within reason of course.

     
    Compliment
    them on their personal style.

     
    Listen
    to their ideas openly, and don`t force your ideas on them.

     
    Offer
    them suggestions, without controlling their ideas and behaviors.

     
    Make
    sure you know your identity, and have the confidence to let your child
    have theirs without criticism and judgment.

     
    Create
    activities that help them identify who they are. Recently my daughters
    made collages. They cut out pictures of everything that symbolized them,
    and then reviewed each others. Then they personalized it even more and
    hung them over their bed.

     
    Have
    them create a family party .or one with some friends. Ask them to plan it
    and design what they want. What kind of food, music atmosphere would they
    like?
The
healthy identity of a child is their key to knowing and seeking what they want
in life.

 

 
Sally Sacks, M.Ed is a
licensed psychotherapist, with 20 years of experience, counseling individuals,
children, families and couples. Sally is the author of How
to Raise the Next President
, a groundbreaking parents’ guide to teaching
and instilling in their kids the qualities they’ll need to be happy, successful
and productive, no matter which path they choose in life. Sally offers personal
and group coaching and can be reached through her website at www.sallysacks.com.



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