Nearly every parent thinks their children have unique talents. I have one child with musical abilities. She can sing and play the piano well. My other child is still developing her skills. She is constantly dancing, twirling and choreographing. My friends’ children are talented in sports like soccer or strong in academics like reading. As parents, how do we balance our kids’ aptitude and help them be confident without them becoming too boastful? Here are a few tips that have helped our family:
First and foremost, I encourage my children to accept the compliments they receive. If someone says a nice phrase about my children, even if it’s a stranger in the grocery store, we reply “thank you.” It may be for my daughters’ appearance. “Oh she’s so pretty!” someone might say. Of course I think my kids are beautiful, but I remind them quickly that physical beauty is not that important. My two daughters know that within our family it is most important to be kind, have knowledge and show love. Those qualities are more essential than being attractive. In fact those qualities make you beautiful. Still I believe it’s best to accept a compliment when it’s been bestowed upon you.
My girls also receive kind comments about their talents, “She has a great singing voice.” Or “She is a wonderful artist.” Again we reply with gratitude and my girls say thank you back. As a parent, my favorite compliments to hear about my kids are related to their behavior or generosity. “She was so well-behaved and used good manners.” “She helped another student.” Or “I would clone another kid just like her.” Those are the statements that make this mama’s heart warm and fuzzy because they are about character.
Forward a compliment.
After someone gives a flattering remark to one of my children, I strongly urge them to forward a compliment or kind phrase back to someone else, especially the person who said one to them. This is a practice I have to remind my kids about. My oldest daughter received a compliment from her cousin recently about a singing performance. She said thank you, but then responded, “I bet others wish they could sing like me.” I quickly explained to my child that although I knew she did not mean harm in her words, her statement came across as boastful. Instead I suggested she give a compliment back to her relative. What was a talent of hers that she observed? She thought of one and forwarded the compliment back. This made both of them feel better. If a stranger is offering the compliment, and my children and I don’t know what to say in return, then we let the person know that he or she made our day more special with their words. “Thank you. Your compliment made our day brighter.”
Talk about talents.
Some children are naturally good at doing certain things. In others, it could be the opposite. A person may not do it well at all or they simply do not enjoy the activity, subject or event. My kids and I have open discussions about different people and their diverse talents. We attend sporting events, performances and competitions. I show my children how being an enthusiastic spectator and supportive fan is just as important as the people featured in the event, show or race. Our family discusses how those athletes and performers work hard and practice regularly to stay in top form and capture the lead. I remind my girls that it’s wonderful for people to be unlike us and have these unique abilities. This way we don’t all accomplish identical achievements or want to be in the same activities. My kids know that if their current activities become less enjoyable or begins to feel like a chore, then we can stop them at anytime. Our hobbies should be enriching and challenging, but most of all they should be fun.
Never Stop Developing and Recognizing Talent
As parents we can develop confident kids, without them becoming arrogant. We can achieve this by teaching them to accept compliments that come their way, give a kind remark back to others and discuss talent whenever they recognize it. This will lead to them pursuing their interests and inspiring others with a grateful heart.
Mandy B. Fernandez is a writer living in Pensacola, Florida with her husband and two children. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in Technical Writing. She writes on topics such as business, education, creative arts, health, family life, parenting and natural foods. In addition she loves sharing humorous stories, poetry and essays about womanhood and motherhood. Her first children’s book, Kazoo Makes The Team, was just released. Visit her at www.writtenbymandy.com.