Is Your Child Really Special?
I have to say something scary is happening to words, and it’s already having a big impact on our kids. If you’re a mom or dad, you’re probably saying it to yourself many times each week. What is it? Well, you’re probably saying, “My child is special.” Whispering to your child during a cuddle that they’re special to you occasionally is one thing, but what if you were giving an accidental impression that their specialness was something really special? That it wasn’t just a cuddly moment and an expression of love, but that you were somehow teaching your child that they are superior to everyone else. What kind of impact do you think that might have on their future lives?
I say this because I believe that words are being swallowed up by a slowly encroaching black void of political correctness, and that’s really affecting our children’s perceptions of how they fit in to the world. Now, we’ve had political correctness for some time, and I’m ok with most of it, especially those words that avoid hurt, but I’m not talking about hurtful words here. I’m talking about all the ordinary, everyday words that are slowly losing their meaning. That’s why I guess I’m speaking out. I want kids to understand and appreciate the true meanings of words and to aspire to true words and actions, not some politically correct version of them in which every kid and every action is lauded and special. So what if you knew that your words could even help create behaviour problems? And you know that if you’re struggling with behaviour issues, you can click here.
Is everyone a hero?
Let’s take another word like “hero” as an example. Well, the other night, on the way home while I was driving, I was listening to a play being offered in Calgary. What made this play apparently very different to all the other plays was that in this one, an ordinary audience member was the “hero.” At the beginning of the play, the “hero” was asked if they were, in fact, heroic. Most said “no” (great, there are some sensible people left), but the lady being interviewed was able to say that by the end of the play, using tales and snippets from these people’s lives, everyone was indeed a hero. Oh goody. We’ve made it, people. We’re all heroes! I am. You are. The dog is. We’re all heroes. Oh, please come on. Let’s face it, not everyone is a hero, and to say so cheapens the word and the sacrifices of people who really are heroes.
Now, some politically correct words are necessary and exist to make others feel better, and that’s ok, but I think the pendulum has begun to swing too much the other way because words are thoughts, and thoughts are becoming actions in the real world. Let’s take the concept of “being special,” the term used to describe something or someone extraordinary or one-of-a-kind. A person who went “above and beyond,” as it were. But now, we’re all special. Man, woman, or child, we’re all special, and so the word has become meaningless. We no longer need to strive to be described as special; we simply already are, just by virtue of our breathing.
But that’s not the worst part because, as I mentioned before, if everyone is special and if the word has become meaningless, how can we still fulfil a deeply human need to feel like a valued member of a group? The answer is that as a society we have become muddled. Being part of a family or group is no longer enough. In my article about “Ways to make your child happy,” I explained how parents from that country would think it was ridiculous not to include children in the day-to-day activities they undertake, like recycling or grocery shopping (often on a bike). Children are not entertained in the sense that we entertain them, and as a result, they are generally a very happy group of children. Children in Holland, for instance, aren’t told they are special; they are shown it, and that makes a huge difference. In North America, however, children are idolized and told how brilliant and amazing they are all the time, yet they often contribute little to the family in terms of help. They are catered to too, with legions of parents busting themselves to discover what junior wants to do next. Instead of being a contributing and important help to their parent’s activities, as children have done for millennia and from which they receive real self-esteem, we have engaged in this giant experiment that disconnects children from what they really need and fills the void with endless toys and entertainments instead.
Children are told over and over again that they are special—not simply loved but special. But without having a role, without being truly important as a functioning member of the group, they fall into the trap of needing to “have something to prove” how special they are because the word is no longer working for them. Being a valued member of a group, loved, and with a role is insufficient because we do not value it.
Instead make your child feel loved and valued, not special.
“My child is special” mantra, I believe, started off as a well-intentioned move that ironically strove to do the right thing, namely, give children a valued place in their family and the community at large, when it was obvious they were beginning to feel lost. What it’s done, though, has been the opposite. Now the kids’ ‘specialness’ has created the culture of “me” and, as a result, has put children on a pedestal where adults look to them instead of the other way around. Natural leadership, something I now dedicate my time to and something that has been a hallmark of parenting for generations, has for the most part gone the way of the dodo bird.
Children want to feel part of something larger than themselves, but instead everything is focused on them. Feeling isolated, kids are trying to show us that’s not actually what they want. They behave in a narcissistic way, are never satisfied, and increasingly turn to technology instead of human relationships. What they want is to be part of the activity but not the focus of it. They are trying to tell us that the trappings of their specialness are empty. It is simply a word that entitles them to everything they think they crave but, in reality, do not want.
It is not too late. We can reverse this if we try being honest once again, and a good start would be to stop the meaningless words we use and understand what children’s real needs are. If we fail to listen, we will instead raise generations of kids whose real needs have gone unmet. That would be a tragedy that even their specialness could never overcome.
Do you have a child displaying behaviour issues like biting, temper tantrums, picky eating, or sleeping problems? If so, go to Annie the Nanny’s parenting services page to see how she can bring peace and calm to your home.
Is your child aggressive? Find out how to stop the aggressive behaviour.
Did you know Annie the Nanny writes for other blogs? Here’s an article about how parents can make their kids truly happy.