What to Do When Your Child Doesn't Fit In
From not being invited to the birthday party to getting called hurtful names, hearing that your child feels like they don't fit in can nearly break a parent's heart. But, as we grownups know, the things that make children different are also the things that make them special—and finding ways to celebrate that uniqueness is key to their confidence.
So, in a world that's full of sameness, how do you make sure your kiddo learns to embrace what makes them one of a kind? Together with the team behind Jason Tharp's new picture book "It's Okay to Be a Unicorn"—a colorful story of kindness and acceptance—we're bringing you five ways to help your child embrace and celebrate their inner "unicorniness."
Bring On the Tutus and Bug Collections
Maybe your kid wants to wear a totally wacky outfit, play an obscure instrument, or tap dance down the hallways. Whether it's clothes, hair, interests, or activities, give your child plenty of space to express themselves. When parameters feel necessary, encourage self-expression by offering options. Make sure to allow your child to have his or her own preferences and feelings, and remember they may not align with your own or the person you expected them to be.
Find a Tribe
If your child feels like a fish out of water, sign them up for swimming lessons—or circus, cooking, or dance classes! There are all kinds of programs and hobbies out there to try. Not only will new activities help them see that there's a whole lot more world out there, but they may find friends through their new shared interest. Remember, your kiddo probably won't pursue everything they try, but praise their attempts and show your full support when they land on something they really enjoy.
Books are a wonderful way to start conversations about acceptance, self-esteem, individuality, and kindness. Reading about characters who bravely overcome challenges and learn to stand tall can really inspire children who may be having a hard time. In the engaging and brightly illustrated "It's Okay to Be a Unicorn," unicorn Cornelius J. Sparklesteed is desperately trying to fit in in a town full of horses by hiding his horn underneath a large hat. Through the story, children learn that finding the courage to embrace their own specialness is totally worth it!
Resist the urge to compare your child to siblings or peers. Rather than worrying that they are not doing what others are doing, encourage your child's growth by praising their specialness, supporting their unique needs, and giving them some room to grow where they need to.
Meanwhile, encourage your child to quit the comparisons too. "Don't compare your insides to someone else's outsides," is a saying that really breaks this down for little ones. When you feel upset or worried, it's easy to look at others and think they appear confident and happy. But you never know what's going on on the inside, so it's far more important to focus on doing what makes you most comfortable.
A scene from the book "It's Okay to Be a Unicorn"
Some of the most creative and influential people in the world were labelled "different," "weird," or "quirky" as kids, and you know what? They were simply unique children—many of whom had the love and support to carve out their own paths. So, remind your kiddo how proud you are of them for pursuing their own special interests. Praise them for being brave in the face of challenges. And make sure they know they are loved just the way they are.
Do you know a special unicorn? Grab a copy of Jason Tharp's "It's Okay to Be a Unicorn," and celebrate the things that make each one of us unique!