One night, sitting around the table, three friends and I were talking about personality traits. My beautiful, dramatic, bubbly friend, whom everyone loves, shared, “When I was a kid, everyone told me I was too dramatic. For years, I tried to get rid of my too dramatic self.”
But dramatic is who she is! Vibrant, funny, alive, the center of attention with creative talents galore….that’s her! Wow! What if she had continued to believe those who told her she was “too”? What if she became less than God wanted because of that little word being used negatively?
Have I ever been guilty of stunting a child’s personality because I have told him he was ‘too’ _________? Too talkative – it worked for Oprah. Too quiet, too active, too creative, too hyper. That last one worked for Gillian Lynne, a famous dancer, who became a choreographer known for her work in Cats and Phantom of the Opera. She speaks of herself as being “hopeless” in school, a word she often heard. Too…..you fill in the blank.
What if, instead of just seeing a particular trait as something that drives you crazy, you actually turned it around and looked at how it might be positive? I know it can be a stretch. I didn’t always appreciate my son’s creativity when he used it to put peanut butter on the clock hands so the teacher would think it was time for dismissal! However, it has served him well as he has gone on to become a master craftsman who uses his creativity to design new projects.
Take another look at those children who have an idiosyncracy that might be unacceptable in a classroom. How could you turn it into a positive? How could you speak to the child in a way that lets him know you appreciate him, with all his quirks?
How about sharing something from your own life – a trait that seemed negative that you’ve used for good. Brainstorm some ideas for how to put it to good use and how it might be practiced outside of the classroom. Think of some ways to help him manage it in the classroom. And most of all, let him know that this trait helps to make him unique and special, keeping the door open for a positive relationship with you.