It's natural that young people in school want to fit in, Rabbi Shmuley says. "But fitting in can often mean subjecting oneself to the 'herd' instinct and losing one's individuality," he says. Parents can help their child resist peer pressure and avoid conforming to the group by teaching him that every person is born with a unique contribution to make to the planet.
How to Get Children to Develop Their Unique Gifts:
1. Help them identify it. Talk to them constantly about what makes them special. Give them positive feedback when they use their special qualities and when they decide not to "go with the flow."
2. Strengthen it. Encourage and motivate your children to be themselves and to never allow others to define them. "They should never compromise themselves to fit in," Rabbi Shmuley says.
3. Give them positive role models. Teach your children about people you know who make a difference with their special gifts and lead by example. This can include introducing them to biographies of great men and women in history.
4. Open up. Give them examples from your own life where you did the right thing even when others disagreed with you. Also, tell them stories of their grandparents and family members who were different and proud of it.
"The tragedy of being human is, as a wise man once said, that each of us is born G-d's original, but so many die man's copy. Our objective as parents must be to help our children discover their individuality and never compromise their integrity in order to fit in."
Published on August 19, 2008