All kids can benefit from knowing what makes them unique. The more you can expand your child's awareness of his qualities, the greater the likelihood is that he will value his identity and not feel resentful and jealous about others. Here are the four keys to unlocking your child's awareness of his special qualities:
• Identify strengths. Choose one or two positive qualities you want your child to recognize about herself right away—for example, her artistic abilities, a sense of humor, kindness, grace, strength, flexibility. Make sure the strengths are already present in your child, not ones you wish were true about her.
• Praise the quality. Find opportunities to praise the talent or strength frequently.You can start out by giving one strength message a day, and gradually work your way up to two to four strength reminders. Be specific in your praise, so that your child knows exactly what she did to deserve recognition: "You're very open-minded; you always seem to listen to everyone's ideas before you form an opinion.""You're so caring. I noticed how you stopped to ask that older woman if she needed help crossing the street.""You always seem to have something upbeat and positive to say about people. It brightens everyone's day."
• Develop the skill. If your younger child is graceful, enroll her in ballet; if she is musically inclined, give her music lessons. If your teen has a flare for fashion, find a modeling class to join. Cultivate your child's talent so she can improve that special quality and boost her self-confidence.
• Support the special quality. Find ways for your child to demonstrate his qualities to others. If he is artistically inclined, he might design your family stationery. If she is athletic, enroll her in a sport so you can cheer her abilities at games.
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