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Kids: Fitting In vs. Being Your Authentic Self

It can be quite challenging for children to take a stand when they see disrespectful and rude behaviour, especially if they are trying to ‘fit in’ and be liked. Reflecting on my time as a kid, I realize when I didn’t speak up it was because:

  • I worried what my friends would think of me if I said something.
  • I wanted to be liked and fit in.
  • It seemed easier to go along with the crowd. 

Taking actions that might lead to exclusion, ridicule, disapproval or embarrassment is something we all tend to avoid. It‘s crucial for kids to decide the person they want to be. I call this their END RESULT.

Below are two possible END RESULTS a child may have:

#1 End Result – to be someone who always strives to be liked by everyone no matter what the circumstance.
#2 End Result – to be a respectful person who stays true to myself even when others don’t agree.
Imagine two kids confronted by a challenging circumstance with their friends – one with End Result #1 and the other with End Result #2:
#1’s choice would be to do whatever was needed to ‘fit in’ and be liked – even if it meant hurting others and compromising their own self-esteem.
#2’s choice would be to stand up for what’s right and stay true to their beliefs even if it’s not the popular choice – even though it may feel scary.
As a result, #2’s self-esteem would grow while #1’s self-esteem would diminish.

Encourage your child(ren) to reflect on who they want to be – their END RESULT. Once they have decided, have them write it on a piece of paper and place it somewhere visible. This will be their reminder that their END RESULT is their guide to making choices that align with their vision of the person they want to be. Additionally, it will help them enhance their ability to resist the pressure to change in order to fit in and build the confidence to stay true to their authentic self. 

Until next time…

Sara Westbrook is a professional speaker and creator of UPower Inc, offering keynotes, presentations and workshops on ‘Emotions Change Choices’ to audiences ages 4 -100. She can be found at sarawestbrook.com or on Instagram @iamsarawestbrook.


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