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Help Your Kid Feel Confident About Their Unique Qualities

For decades, parents have had to deal with kids wanting the latest this or that on TV, the popular music group’s newest record/8 track/CD, and the biggest teen heartthrob of the year.  That’s just the way popular culture and kids interact.  But what about the kids who march to a slightly different drummer?

I had a conversation with one of my daughters about her interests today.  She loves snap electrical circuit projects, erector sets, elephants, ballet, gymnastics, football, and stylish tops with jeans that don’t get too glitzy.  Some typical girl things for her age, some not.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  But you know, kids can get cruel when the pressure is on to fit in.  I so badly want to keep a protective bubble around her sense of exploration for the next fifteen years.

I was kind of a quirky kid myself.  I really liked outer space, rigging up weird contraptions in my house, making up elaborate imaginary play situations with my best friend, tracking weather, show tunes, and even listening to talk radio while my friends listened to the Go-Go’s (I didn’t even know who they were for a while).  But my mom and dad never led me to believe there was anything wrong with being interested in these things.  They took me to museums, let me have a radio in my room, took me to musicals and concerts, and my farmer father talked a lot about the weather with me.

I certainly had my share of teen girls angst, but I have also found many treasures of enjoyment through these interests.  I enjoyed a great deal of musical performance during school, including instrumental, vocal, and marching band. I did competitive speech, made my own telescope, I still love tracking weather (tracking a severe thunderstorm in our county right now), I listen to all kinds of radio now, and I love recalling goofy memories with my elementary school best friend.  All of those interests have served me my whole life, and my parents’ open minded approach to interesting things has led me to new pursuits I never thought possible.

I know I’m still a little quirky and eclectic, and I’ve learned to totally embrace it.  I think it brings a richness to my parenting, and lets me really teach my kids about exploring things.  My husband and I share some of these quirky interests, such as meeting in the marching band and watching good SciFi shows on a regular basis (we went to the new Star Trek movie for our anniversary).

I like to be stylish, I’d love to go see “this week’s most popular movie in America”, and feel like I’ve got enough popular culture knowledge to carry a decent conversation.  But really, I just value my ability to be genuinely curious and my love for learning, whether that has anything to do with what’s popular or not.

Each of my kids has some off-beat interests and talents, and I love it.  I hope they feel the same openness and confidence from me and my husband as I got from my own parents.  I can’t wait to see how each of these interests blossom throughout their life.  Where else will we get the next generation’s visionaries, inventors, and pioneers but through our kids’ interests?

Help Your Kid Feel Confident About Their Unique Qualities

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). Help Your Kid Feel Confident About Their Unique Qualities. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 7, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Jun 2009
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