Oh JoyOh Joy

on being different...

Teaching Kids About Being Different

A few months ago, Ruby went through a phase where she kept saying, "I just want to be normal." She didn't like it when we said she was funny or cute or entertaining. She would get upset, stop whatever she was doing, shrug her shoulders and proceed to tell us she just wanted to be normal. Of course, that upset me a lot because she doesn't yet realize that not "being normal" is what most people strive to be. The most successful and creative people in the world are those who think outside the box and who defy what's considered "normal".

While my husband and I knew it was a phase and tried not to worry about it too much, I knew that it was my job as her parent to keep telling her in small ways how we are all different and special and how really there is no "normal". Most of Ruby's friends come from mixed families and so we talk to her all the time about how every family is different and special.

To make it easier for her to visualize, we've been using these animals (leftover from Coco's birthday party). I asked her what they look like and what makes them each special. We talked about the different colors they had and also what sounds they make, how strong they are, and things they can do that no other animal can do. Then, when I asked her which one was the "normal" one. She said that none of them were normal and they were all special. Finally, we talked about what made her different and special. Now she's much more okay with not being normal and is more aware of trying to think about what makes her...well, her. 

(Now, let's queue the music that comes on at the end of every episode of Full House right about now...)

I know we'll struggle with this issue throughout her life as she grows and changes and strives to fit in and be accepted by her peers (I spent a good chunk of my tween years wishing I looked like the other girls in my class). But for now, I feel a small bit of relief that we're helping her become more aware of everyone's differences and enjoying the beauty of that.

I'd love to hear what you guys think and any things that have helped you with this type of thing in the past.

{Photo by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

Comments