Being a kid today is a tough job: I mean that! No, they don’t know the pain of chores like we might have. No, they don’t know what life was like before the internet, or cellphones, or a bazillion after-school clubs. But, they do live in a distractible, confusing, and sometimes anxiety prone world. There are plenty of things that pull our kids in more directions than we would wish, and today’s kids feel them.
So, how do you bring out that inner superhero in your kids each and every day? Believe it or not, the answer may lie in slowing things down, taking things easier, and finding your kiddos inner strengths (the ones they didn’t even know they had).
Slow it Down
Not all kids can handle the pace of today’s busy world. Even within my own family, I have kids who handle a hectic schedule different from their siblings. We have one who thrives on staying busy and loves a challenge. He wants to be part of EVERYTHING, and accomplish EVERYTHING, if at all possible. His brother needs things to be slower. He needs time to rest, relax, and redirect. He needs more time to just BE.
Even with the different personalities, I take time to slow things down on a regular basis. For the more sensitive child, we choose only a few activities to be involved in and try to make them ones he really cares about. For our go-getter, we allow him to do a bit more, but also call a time out if he seems stressed or if his body seems tired. Taking that time to slow down will allow them to recharge and to reflect. It also allows time for some good old-fashioned play.
Figure out their Priorities
I know you think that this sounds crazy. “You want me to ask an 8-year-old their PRIORITIES?” But, yes…sort of. You may want your son to be an amazing football player or your daughter to be a Prima Ballerina, but what do THEY want? Think about the things your child loves to do. What would they do if they could do or be anything? It may not line up with your own hopes and dreams for your child. In fact, it may be polar opposite.
Now, I imagine that some of my readers will HATE this suggestion. You’ll worry that your child’s talents will be squandered if they have a choice. I am not suggesting you ONLY do things your child wants…just that you consider who they really are when you make choices. If you make the choices together, as a family, everyone will know what to expect and what the plan is for extra activities.
Keep Yourself Out of It
I’m about to make you mad again, I fear.
If you always wished to be an amazing pianist, a star football player, the head cheerleader, or a perfect student: take a step back. Your child is not, in fact, YOU. We all wish that we had made different choices and done some things that would have challenged us more when we were young. We all look at successful people and wonder how they did it and wish we had followed that same path. But, if you look at your life, I am betting you also know you are exactly where you are supposed to be. So, then, is your child.
Consider the differences between yourself and your children and try to help them live THEIR passions: NOT yours. If you find yourself getting too wrapped up in a sports or activity, take a step back and reset your thoughts to support what your child wants to get out of the experience. If they learn and grow, but are not the superstar, that is good enough.
Make Family Time
No matter how busy your schedule is, make time for family time as often as you can. If you find yourself with no time to do their homework or eat dinner, something is off in your schedule. Make it a priority to find that time and make it happen.
My boys both swim on a swim team, so they practice a lot. For us, we have carved out that family time by eating dinner very early, almost as soon as they get home from school. This works out well because they are usually very hungry then. We simply have a larger snack later in the evening to stave off any late night hunger. Can you find a similar way to find a little time during the day that is just about your family?
I know you may be thinking that this is going to add one more thing to your already busy schedule. But, finding the time to be charitable as a family is invaluable to finding your child’s inner superhero. A child learns that, even though they are young, they can help and make a difference in our world. This is extremely empowering for them and for you! It can be as simple as helping with a food drive at school or reading to younger kids at the library, but every child has something to offer others. They will be excited about the chance to help another person. Look for charities your child is excited about. They may love animals, so you could choose a local animal shelter. If they love books, volunteer at the library. Look to your school for organizations they can join that offer age-appropriate ways to give. While giving, they will also learn a great deal about what it means to be a community: one of the biggest gifts you can give your child.
Maybe your child is just a bit different from their peers. They may have different interests, different hobbies, or even a whole different outlook on life. Try hard not to make your child fit in to a mold that is uncomfortable for them. Though you may worry that they are not fitting in, those differences may turn in to your child’s most amazing traits. Try not to stifle the things that make them unique.
Finding your child’s inner superhero means figuring out what makes your child feel strong and powerful, while standing in the amazingness that makes them, well…. THEM! When you figure out how to do that, you will see your child blossom in ways you never thought possible. KAPOW!