Child Psychologist Urges Parents To Celebrate Kids for Who They Are

A child psychologist on TikTok is reminding parents of the importance of loving their kids as they are. A parent's expectation is not always a child's reality.

Mother talking with young daughter on sofa
Photo: Getty Images/MoMo Productions

The internet is full of advice on how to get your baby to eat and sleep. Typically, the advice is often take it or leave it. Some tactics, like putting an infant down for bed drowsy but awake, simply don't work for every child or family.

But one child psychologist gave her No. 1 tip for parents. It makes sense, at least on the surface, though some comments claimed it was controversial. And even if you agree it makes sense, applying it can be a challenge.

"If I had to give parents one tip, it would be this," started the child psychologist, who goes by @_itserikav on TikTok. "Work on accepting and celebrating your child for who they are, not for who you wanted them to be, not for who you expected them to be, not for who you wish they were, but who they are."

And why, exactly, does this matter? The answer, according to this child psychologist, is short and sweet.

"There are fewer things more important than being accepted and celebrated by your parents," she said.

Some of the commenters completely agreed with the child psychologist.

"This is such an important message," wrote one TikToker.

"I always said from the moment my kids are born that they're showing me who they are. I am just here to support and love them," said another.

But it's natural to have frustrations with our children. We also may have had dreams of being parents one day and had a certain image in our mind of what our kids would be like. While it's necessary to let go of our expectations, these dreams can be hard to shake. Some commenters got vulnerable about this aspect of parenting.

"My daughter is very sweet and sensitive and cries often. The crying part is what I'm trying to accept as part of her, but it's so hard for me," one person responded.

But others weren't exactly on board.

"My son is very lazy and getting 'F's' all of the time. I am throwing a celebration party today," a TikToker replied with more than a hint of sarcasm.

"My child wants to do nothing but play video do I accept him for that?" said another.

The original poster attempted to explain.

"To clarify, their essence, their uniqueness, their personality, their passions, their sensitivities. Them as a whole," she wrote in a separate comment.

On the one hand, a child is their own person. They're going to develop their own interests, which may not be the same as yours, and personalities. If they're kind, caring, and safe, that's what matters. But how can parents draw lines between allowing a child to be themselves and discouraging harmful behaviors? Try these expert-backed tips:

  • Give specific and selective praise. Reinforcing positive behaviors and traits can enhance their self-esteem. For example, "I love how detailed your art projects are. You're so creative and thorough." Be selective, though. If you tell a child, "good job," every time they fold their laundry, the compliments can start to feel less genuine.
  • Teach them coping skills. There's a ton of pressure to conform, particularly as a child gets older. Even if you're an accepting parent, your child will probably face peer pressure. Continuing to build their confidence and self-esteem at home will make them more resilient and likely to love themselves, regardless of what their peers think.
  • Don't let them off the hook. Your child will make mistakes, and you don't have to accept harmful behavior. When your child messes up, explain how the behavior affected someone else. For example, "When you bit his arm, he started crying because it hurt." Then, help them develop solutions, such as getting the other child's favorite teddy bear or an ice pack.

Listen, parenting is complicated. Good communication, patience, and plenty of love can help you and your kids navigate the years ahead.

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