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Growing up

Children as outsiders: Being different is hard but good

Being different can help your child become better than others. You can give him/her the tools to become stronger and more fulfilled.

How much time did you spend wishing you were more like someone else? Was there something “wrong” with your face or body? Didn’t you want to be smarter, prettier, or funnier? We all did. But when you really stick out from the crowd… Being an outsider child can be rough.

Can you guess these famous teenager’s names?

1. An eye surgery left this kid with a lazy eye and a speech disorder. He was bullied because he stuttered, wore big glasses, and had ginger hair! Speech therapy didn’t help but rapping to Eminem’s music did. One of the coolest kids from his class ended up as a plumber, and our outsider is an MBE and one of favorite pop artists worldwide.

2. She was bullied for being too thin, wearing glasses and braces. Her Beverly Hills school mates teased her for being poor. She fought mental illnesses as a teenager and was a heroin addict. She attempted suicide for the first time when she was 19, had a nervous breakdown at 24, and won an Oscar at the age of 25.

The answers are:

1. Ed Sheeran

2. Angelina Jolie

Even when you are “uncool” you can end up making big things.

The issue of being different

We admire authentic people when they’ve reached success. And marketing gurus advise businesses to be original. Yet we judge anyone who is different because we want other people to be like us. We want things to be predictable.

Being different is hard.

Each one of us is great at something. Kids yearn for peer acceptance. Children who are on the spectrum, gay, highly sensitive, too tall, from different culture, or with some physical or mental disability are unlucky only because they are not like others.

Being different is normal.

You can’t do anything about the way you’re born. A squirrel has a beautiful orange tail, a bat has thin black wings. You accept your skin, the color of your eyes, and your blood. You can hide your true self but you’ll end up miserable. You should feel good about who you really are.

Being different is good.

People unlike us redefine what’s acceptable for mankind. They inspire us to aim for something higher. They fight the battles most don’t dare because we prefer to be comfortable. It is easier to be a part of the crowd.

Being different can be inspiring.

Ed Sheeran by Eva Rinaldi, Flickr

“Being weird is a wonderful thing“,

said Ed Sheeran in his 2017 motivational speech about his childhood experience.

Instead of being ashamed of their uniqueness, Ed encouraged children to embrace their differences.

He made it because of his quirks.

How to help your children if they are outsiders

If your children suffer because their peers don’t accept them, try to change their perspective. Teach them their uniqueness is good and work on their empowerment. Here are the things experts suggest that you tell them…

– a story from your childhood

Stories are the best way to get to anyone. Empathize. Remember the time when you felt like an outsider. The anecdote will make them see everybody feels this way sometimes. People get over it and move on.

– People with good intentions will appreciate your true self

Real friends will love you for who you are. If you feel uncomfortable in the company of some children, don’t waste your time on them. They don’t deserve your kindness. And you can live without them.

– Your difference can make you braver

If you accept what makes you different, you will love yourself for who you are. You will feel you are good enough to do things other children don’t dare to.

To those who feel like outsiders: "You have nothing to prove to anybody", Maya Angelou.

‘You alone are enough.

You have nothing to prove to anybody.“

– Maya Angelou

– Your authenticity can make you more creative

Jessica Cox has no arms. Nevertheless, this beautiful woman is a licensed pilot, drives without prosthetic arms, and has a black belt in Taekwondo. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. She puts contact lenses herself. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

– You will become a greater person

Life is often uncomfortable. But when you feel uneasy, you can grow mentally. Uncomfortableness always passes and something better comes.

Don’t become mean just because other children hurt you. If you are kind, people will love you and admire you in the end. You will achieve much more than kids who don’t have to make an effort.

– You will become stronger

If children go through experiences that are a bit hard but not overwhelming, they can become more resilient.  

This is what you can tell your child:

  • Focus on a goal and keep going.
  • It is not enough just to want things to happen. You have to repeat something even though you failed.
  • If you think like this, you will recover quickly from difficult situations. You will be cool when times are hard.
  • When life is hard, find the things you CAN control. Try to change them.
  • Ask yourself what you can learn from this situation. Being wise is the most powerful thing.

– You will appreciate other people’s authenticity

If you are different, you will see the beauty in outsiders. We are all brilliant at something but not everybody can see this. If you see more in others, you can learn more from them. And more people will love and respect you because you give so much love and understanding.

What your kids can do to feel better

The key to the outsider problem is to strengthen children’s resilience. As a result, they will feel better about themselves. According to Australian Kids Help Line, these are some of the things you tell your children so they could build resilience:

  • Try to think positive thoughts.
  • Think of your goal often and go towards it.
  • Make small steps, try again, be persistent.
  • Tell yourself the uncomfortable will pass.
  • Do something relaxing.
  • Talk to someone about what’s bothering you.

Nobody likes to stand alone but sometimes you have no choice. As Dennis Merritt Jones states in his article “Strong winds, strong roots”, trees need strong winds to grow. To become taller, the tree requires a deep root to support it. When winds blow, the tree roots grow deep into the ground. The branches sway, but the trunk stands firm. Winds can be good. They teach us how to adapt to circumstances but remain firm. They can make us stronger and more flexible.

I wrote a children’s book about a little outsider. It is about blackbird who cannot fit in the farm life. Here it is:

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