Every child is unique, but sometimes that nugget of creativity is crushed by standardized test scores, overbearing parents, and school bullies. Until recently, public schools have been sorting children into groups based on a number.
New research, however, is proving that the traditional checkbox culture is unfair and inaccurate. All children, despite their test scores, possess a variety of skills and unique talents that allow them to grow and prosper in different ways — being the smartest kid in class doesn’t necessarily equal success.
One child may be extremely talented with a paintbrush, but terrible with numbers while another might be an exceptional runner who can’t hold a tune. Our culture thrives off the individual talents of each person, and we should continue to celebrate these skills as our children develop.
If you’re a parent, you may want to reassess how you think about your child’s education and their specific gifts. If you’re unsure of how to do that, here are three ways to encourage your child’s individual talents rather than hide them behind test scores.
Stop comparing your child to others.
Sometimes, parents use comparisons to motivate their child, but a lot of the time it does the exact opposite. Comparing your child’s accomplishments to those of others will force them to think competitively. This mindset can lower their self-esteem, which will cause them to stifle their opinions and creativity.
While your child may not be as talented in one area as another child, they’re bound to excel in something else. You just have to open your eyes to see it. Instead of comparing your child to others, use positive words of encouragement to help them bring out their best. This will give them the mental attitude they need to continue creating and working.
Treat your child’s learning experiences as your own.
Children are constantly growing and discovering, so as a parent, you have the joy of growing and discovering with them. The easiest way to encourage their uniqueness is by observing them, asking questions, and keeping an open mind. Oftentimes, parents have a specific image of who their child will grow up to be. Sometimes this is the image of who they were in their youth or the image of who they wanted to be, but they didn’t quite get there. By forcing these preconceived notions of who your child is onto them, kids can often become frustrated or downcast.
Observe your child’s interests. By keeping your eyes open to what they actually enjoy, you will help them find their individual passion without influencing them (or making them feel obligated) to follow in your footsteps. While development is a matter of nature and nurture, your child may develop in similar ways to yourself and other ways that are completely separate from your own interests. Remember that they are their own little developing person. By playing and learning with them, you encourage your child to become the best version of themselves.
Refrain from forcing your child to be the sports star.
Some parents have a bad habit of pushing their child to unusually high expectations. Your child doesn’t have to be the star of the soccer team or be the valedictorian of a private elementary and middle school. Even if your child needs the help of an English tutor online or some assistance with their math homework, that doesn’t mean he or she is less important than their classmates. Not every student thrives in academics, sports, and the arts, which is why we find ways to support each other and lift our individuals talents up. Together with our unique talents, we thrive.