Being Attuned to Your Distinctive Child

"I have a distinctive child."

“I have a distinctive child.”

How to Let Your Child Know He is Distinctive

How do you know you have a distinctive child? It’s because there’s an invisible thread between you and your child. This is because you know more than anyone what makes him distinctive. You know her strengths and special qualities. Does she know you know them?


Children often go to school and feel part of the masses. They ride the school bus with a bunch of noisy kids. They pay attention to the tasks of the school day including the routines, lining up with a group to go to certain classes and events, following rules set for all. But do they have a core sense inside of them that they are distinctive?
This is where you come in. Here are four suggestions:
1. Notice your child’s distinctive positive traits and let him know about them.

It might be his cheerful grin, her techy talent or his special ability to show he’s grateful like remembering to say thank-you making others feel good. It might be grander or more modest than all that, but whatever makes him distinctive, it is important that it is noticed. If you notice it and say so, then he’ll notice and know, too.

2. Let your child hear you tell your spouse or another adult he knows about his distinctive trait.
Don’t embarrass him but let him know that others also notice his distinction.

3. Reward with words not material goods because it’s not something earned, but something intrinsic to his good character or abilities. Make your praise specific and detailed.

4. Encourage him to build on his distinction by learning more about his ability, sharing it with others, branching out into similar, yet a little different, avenues.

If it’s not a particular ability, but something like a cheerful disposition, ask him how he feels when he affects others around him. Does he realize he has such an impact on peers and adults? How else can he use this trait?

Why It’s Important to Feel Distinct

• It builds self-confidence.
• It makes a child feel significant even when part of a large group.
• It instills the courage to make friends
• It instills the courage to interact with adults
• It helps kids try new things they may have held back from learning before they knew they were distinctive.

The Parent-Child Relationship Supports Your Distinctive Child

When your child knows you think of him as distinctive, he feels loved and approved of which builds your relationship. It lets him realize he is recognized and validated by the person whom he loves. She takes this appreciation inside of her and carries it around even when you’re not together.
This builds a core sense of self that is sustained throughout his or her growing years. When she runs into tricky situations or conflicts with others, this inner sense of self will help her forge her way through such tough patches. A child knowing that he is distinctive helps him feel a sense of strength that perhaps only a parent can give a child when they are young.
It’s a special gift from YOU.

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with an upcoming book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior, that will be released in October 13, 2015. It’s worth waiting for!