I spend most of my time afraid I’m warping my kids for life. Most of the folks around me fear the same thing. However, every once in a while, I see a glimmer of hope. Maybe I’m not doing absolutely everything wrong.
Ethan, our 10 year old, is one of the most creative people I know. He writes stories and makes up games. He’s been doing this for years. It has just been natural to recognize this creativity. A few months ago, Marita and I talked about it and decided to be purposeful about commenting on this unique gift he has and prompting him to nurture it through practice and work. When we have our family meetings or when we are just talking with him, we’ve looked for opportunities to praise and encourage his creativity.
Two things have happened in the past week that helped me see this is working.
1) We were playing Apples to Apples (yes, that is an affiliate link, hey, I’ve got to make a living somehow, right?) Each player is given 7 red cards with different nouns on them (e.g. the 1970s, Martin Luther King Jr., my family, gorillas). A green card is turned over with some kind of adjective on it (e.g. playful, wicked, hot, delicious). Each player submits a green card with what they think most closely links to the target adjective. The judge for the round picks out the one he/she thinks most closely fits the target word.
Anyway, the target adjective was “Creative” and Ethan quietly said to me, “If one of my green cards said ‘Me’ on it, I’d play that one.” Yes! My son believes he is creative.
2) The other day Ethan and I were talking in the kitchen. I think I was doing the dishes. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but it had something to do with some creative thing he had done. I commented on his creativity. He said, “You know, Dad, it makes me feel special when someone talks about me being creative.” Yes! My son feels special.
This really all happened quite by accident. Here we are fumbling and stumbling our way through this parenting thing and we hit on a success. I shared these stories with Marita the other day in our family meeting time (before meeting with the kids) and talked about how we are doing a good job with Ethan on this, but perhaps not as good with the others. Now we need to start paying more attention to the others and find the unique gifts and talents they have to help them feel special as well.
Here are 4 Keys I learned about helping your kids feel special from this.
- Observe them closely and discover their God-given uniqueness.
- Ask them what makes them feel special
- Comment on it, praise it, encourage it frequently
- Give your kids lots of smiles and hugs as you do the rest of this.
By the way, what makes you feel special?