Author | Mother
In today’s world there are labels everywhere. From race to religion we label everything to give it substance. Healthcare carries so many labels that are needed to care for health concerns, but these labels also carry a stigma for the bearers. Particularly when those bearers are children. ADHD, Autism and Learning Disabilities are only a few. And even though the labels are meant to help they also hurt. That is why it’s so important to teach kids the understanding that they are so much more than their “label”.
I experienced this firsthand with my youngest child. She was born with a condition so rare that there was no information about it at all. That was twenty years ago. Now the medical community has caught up on the prognosis. And it isn’t good. My daughter passed away two weeks before the age of nineteen and I had no clue she was even seriously ill. Thus, I understand the importance of labels. But I also understand how much they hurt.
During the years I raised my daughter, I made sure to let her know that she was special in a good way-she was loving and kind, understanding and caring. Those were the labels I emphasized in her life. I made sure to help her have a positive identity despite her issues. And she was very happy for the most part. It is critical when raising a child to help them understand that they are so much more than a medical label or a negative label given by peers. They need to know to the depth of their being that they are valuable and loved-even more special because of how God made them.
Living beyond labels is a birthright. Every child that is born has purpose (as parents so adeptly realize). To find that purpose and to strive to complete it is paramount to the child being content and having meaning in life. That purpose also gives them respect from their peers. Children learn from their parents, teachers and other significant adults in their lives. That is why integration in schools and education about race, religion and personal differences is so critical when raising a child with special needs. Our society is becoming better all the time when it comes to such matters. But there is also always room for improvement.
2. Give your child tools to help them succeed.
When you teach your children how to handle criticism, cruelty and bullying, you are giving them meaningful tools to use throughout their lives when hurtful situations arise. Not only can your child help themselves with these tools but they can also help other children who are experiencing similar hardships.
3. Be an appropriate model for your child.
Show them. Don’t just tell them. Actions truly do speak louder than words. They explain in a nonverbal format how to correctly deal with a situation or person causing trouble. They are cues our kids can copy when our children find themselves in worrisome situations.
4. Find groups that deal with low self esteem and other difficult situations.
When a child feels they aren’t alone it makes a huge difference in their lives.
5. Encourage friendships with children that have similar issues.
This is another huge help during the years that your child is forming his or her identity. It will aid your child in understanding that there is so much more to their lives than the one facet of their condition. They will find that their condition is only one small part of who they truly are as they watch their friends learn and grow in positive ways right along with them.
6. Help your child find their talents and other creative outlets.
Hobbies are crucial for everyone. When children have creative ways to express themselves it brings peace and meaning into their lives. It helps them see how valuable and intelligent they are. It also helps them problem solve everyday issues.
7. Aid your child in seeing that their differences make them who they are.
Their differences actually make them beautiful in their own special way. If you can help your child embrace this idea, it will bring love and understanding into their awareness. It will also help them have wisdom into the plight of other people.
When you teach your child that life is what you make of it, you are teaching them a truth of the human condition. They will learn early on that they can make their own way in the world despite what they’ve been labeled with. And that’s a beautiful statement that they will carry with them as they journey through the rest of their lives!
About Diamante Lavendar
Diamante Lavendar is an award winning author and artist. Her two books to date are entitled Breaking The Silence and Poetry and Ponderings. They can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo. Most of her writing is very personal and stems from her own experiences and those of her family and friends. She writes to encourage hope and possibility to those who read her stories.
Diamante believes that everyone should try to leave their own positive mark in the world, to make it a better place for all. Writing is the way that she is attempting to leave her mark—one story at a time. Meet her on Twitter and Facebook.