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03 March 2023

Square pegs in round holes - Five ways to encourage individuality

— My Story

“Who am I?” What a simple , but loaded question. How we answer this question reflects a lot about how we see ourselves, what we value and how much we understand about our own role in our life story. 

So say Educational Psychologist and friend of the My Story Tribe, Mariaan Prins. We probed her about the concept of identity as we explored this theme this week. So many of our Tween Tribe members struggle with the confidence to be and like themselves. It led us to ask why understanding and knowing our identity is so important at this age.

Mariaan Prins explains: “ We all function within a number of systems. You are a part of these systems and interact with them. We get feedback (directly or indirectly) from friends, family, our neighborhood and school and we are influenced by it. Our self-talk is influenced by it. It is important that young people develop a strong voice. But if this voice is not well developed, self-talk is dependent on other people’s opinion - people who do not know us as well as we know ourselves. 

If we don’t know ourselves, we start believing lies about ourselves. In a way, we become our own bully!

But when we reflect on our lives and connect to our own voice and who we are, we develop self knowledge that leads to self love. Knowing ourselves also means knowing our “triggers”. Avoiding triggers or knowing what to do when we experience them is so empowering to young people. 

Identity development can be encouraged in a few ways:

  • Playful investigation. Become detectives that explore! Find out what makes your child happy, excited, upset and reflect that back to them. “I can see you love to be creative.”
  • Make a timeline of ups and downs. Sit together and talk about best and worst days or favourite and least favourite experiences. This reveals a lot about their identity. Maybe not being invited to a party was a low point. This gives parents the opportunity to debunk the idea a child might have that they are not a fun-enough person. That is not a part of their identity. It is a lie. 
  • Create a vision board. Visualizing and then representing our dreams in a tangible way, affirms identity. 
  • Encourage making an identity collage. Talking about who they are and affirming their personality traits and likes, boost self esteem. Make a collage together and celebrate their unique story!”

  • Let’s encourage exploring our children’s identities in our homes!

    “The beautiful challenge is to make room for all the unique identities in a household!” adds our Founder and mom of two teenagers, Milan Murray. 

    “I remind myself that I am also a part of the “system” that gives constant direct and indirect feedback to my kids. I need to be so mindful to make room for their individual personalities and not raise just clones of myself!

    We are four very different people in our household. Making room for the introvert ánd the extrovert, celebrating the athlete ánd the artist and welcoming the traditionalist ánd the free-spirit can be a challenge. Not judging, but carefully directing a young, developing human is a gift and a responsibility.

    Five things we do in our house to encourage individuality

    You can purchase the  My Story Identity Printable Bundle online now!