#9 Teach your child to compensate. As children grow up, their view of themselves is the product of two important influences. First, the quality of life at home. Second, their social experiences outside of the family setting. Influence number one is something we can generally control ourselves, but what strategies can we implement for influence number two?
The world judges us by three primary standards; beauty, brains, and brawn. That the world judges by outward beauty needs no explanation. It is woven into the fabric of our culture. As for brains, despite being sometimes ridiculed as nerds or geeks, intellectual acumen is a highly-valued talent. And every bully knows the value of physical strength. We also value strength of personality and are attracted to the magnetic types who command attention wherever they go.
As children grow up and move more and more into social interactions outside the home, they soon learn where they stand in the beauty, brains, and brawn pecking order. We want to attack the feelings of inferiority that rise out of this pecking order on two fronts. First, we need to teach our kids from a biblical perspective the value of the attributes that God deems important. Second, we need to teach our children to compensate.
What do I mean by compensate? Simply put, we are not going to be unduly influenced by the world’s standards of value and we will compensate for how our kids are judged in the beauty, brains, and brawn department by helping them develop unique skills that they can excel in.
Let me give you an example. Your child is a kinesthetic learner. She struggles with academic achievement. However, she excels in figure skating. She puts all her kinesthetic ability into a graceful routine that has her literally floating across the ice. Encouraging and developing that skill helps her compensate for the challenges she faces in other areas.
Ellen Ripstein won the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in 2001. When her boyfriend later dissed her interest in crossword puzzles as nerdy, her comeback was golden, “Well, what are you the best in the country at?” This line really stuck with me. I or my kids or you or your kids may never be “the best in the country” at anything. But there is something we are very good at. And encouraging your child to develop what they are very good at is a great affirmation weapon against inferiority and low self-worth.