Letting Kids Be Who They Are

One of the best things about Halloween is that it lets you try on a new identity for a short window of time. You can be a princess, a boxer, president, or an ogre. You can totally change how you look and behave for an evening, be it Halloween night or the Saturday before at a costume party.

It’s funny how great we think this is during the small window of October and Halloween, and how terrible (or at the very least, strange) we think it is when kids attempt to do it any other time of year. 

Children and teens spend years figuring out who they are. At first, they do it within the confines of what their parents tell them- the world their parents have created for them. As they get older and more independent, they begin determining whether the things their parents have instilled in them actually work for the person they are meant to be.

I talk about this concept a lot in the Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess series and also in my Modern-Day K spinoff that will be out soon. Children will grow into who they were destined to be. Not supporting them is kind of like telling a mighty Oak it can only grow to 8-feet tall.

Some children want to experiment with how they look as they are growing up. When they are toddlers and preschoolers, they might want to wear a costume every place they go. As they become teens, they might want to grow their hair long or cut their hair super short or dye their hair a different color. Your child might want to purchase clothing that is completely unlike anything they’ve ever worn before. 

An openness to your child’s changing looks and style is important, not only for their mental health and development but also to ensure your relationship with them stays solid as they grow up. You may not love their hairstyle, but you love them, and if they keep their hair clean, is it worth making hair the topic of an argument? Criticizing every style or clothing choice they make will only harm your relationship with them and their feeling of self-worth.

Does this mean you can’t have certain requirements? Of course not. But maybe instead of blanket rules, there should be discussion, open communication, and an understanding of whatever rules you feel most strongly about such as “no tattoos until you can pay for it” or “no offensive language on clothing”.

It helped my children understand that I very much saw them as a reflection of me and that, in most circumstances the world would too. I need to have some say in how they look when they walk out of my door.

It helped me understand that my kids never intended to be disrespectful to me or my rules. Trying new things is how kids learn. Keep the communication open so you can be as much a part of that process as possible.

Children will find a way to be who they were meant to be. Make sure you are a part of their journey.

About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 16 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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