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What to do if your kid doesn’t fit in

Molly Cerreta Smith has enjoyed a career in the publishing industry for more than 10 years. As an editor of several regional magazines, she has had the opportunity throughout her career to meet many local celebrities, businesspeople, ent...

Help your child march to his own beat

Your kid doesn’t fit in — so what? He doesn’t have to fit a certain mold to be happy. Right?

Who's problem is it, anyway?

There is nothing wrong with being different, smart, awkward or otherwise. Every child is different — and beautiful in his or her own way. Help your child understand that he is amazing for exactly who he is and if others take issue with that, then that is their problem — not your child's.

The importance of praising your kids >>

Unique is cool — Pass it on

Psychotherapist, family counselor, international speaker and author of Stop Bullying Now and I Believe I Can Fly!, Edie Raether, suggests telling your child stories where people who are different excelled and became the victor. She says, "I personally make up stories to tell to my grandchildren and they keep begging for one more story. Stories have emotional impact because children identify and relate to the characters in the stories."

They are not alone

Melissa Areffi, co-author (with her husband Andrew) of Navigating Autism: The Essential How-to by Parents for Parents agrees, adding you can remind your child that he is not the only one who has ever not fit in or is unique in his own way. She says, "Show them that they are not alone. Katy Perry, Albert Einstein and Jack Black were all considered to be awkward. Think of how many talented people we look up to who were considered to be socially awkward as children, or in some cases, still as adults."

Help your child develop her talents >>

Make him a star outside of school

Melissa also suggests helping your child find an activity in which he can excel on his own, which will help build his confidence. She says, "Put the spotlight on them outside of school. Look to things that will bolster confidence outside of school, like individualized sports or activities where the focus is entirely on them. Ice skating, swimming, martial arts, acting or musical instruments."

She adds, "Success outside of school also leads to confidence inside school. When you're good at something, you know it — and others do too."

Help your child hone an extracurricular activity >>

Help him find friends like him

Jen Hancock, author of The Bully Vaccine and mom to a "precocious" and gifted 7-year-old son who has unique interests and also has absence seizures resulting in staring spells which other children don't understand knows all about dealing with her child not fitting in with the stereotypical kids. She suggests helping your child find friends that do "get him."

She says, "For instance, the gifted program at [my son's] school was great for him because he is around other kids who are like him and who think like him. The first time he was introduced to those kids, he came home excited, saying, 'Mom — they're crazy, just like me.'"

More on helping your child succeed at life

How to help your shy child extend himself
5 Ways to boost your child’s self esteem
Help your child become less shy and more confident

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