Shine the spotlight on your kids

Every child needs to be in the spotlight at least some of the time. Parents can make this happen in a fun way at home.

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  • Being in the spotlight is a fun experience for a child. We can't guarantee it at school or anywhere else, but we can certainly make it happen at home. When the whole family is focused on the talents and accomplishments of a family member it can bond the family and create a feeling of loving support for one another. Helping your children shine at home can boost their ego along with their incentive to keep on improving. Make sure each child gets a chance to shine. Let the whole family in on shining the light.

  • Here's how to shine the spotlight on your kids at home

  • 1. Let them cook a family meal or dessert

  • This will take some supervision on your part, and will require a good measure of patience. There will be spills and mishaps as the child learns to cook. She may even tackle the job sometime when you're not there - to surprise you. Enjoy the product of his labors and shut your eyes to the mess. If you focus on the mess it will kill the moment. Let the whole family know who made the dish and smile with pride over what she accomplished. When it's served up, have the family applaud the cook. It will inspire others to follow suit.

  • 2. Help them develop a musical talent

  • As children learn give them the opportunity to show it off at a special family night talent shows. Invite grandparents, aunts and uncles to come over and be in on the homespun recital. Their praise is priceless. When the child performs, take a minute to tell a little about that child, how hard she practiced, how proud of her you are. Shine the spotlight as brightly and honestly as you can.

  • Not all children will have musical talent, but all deserve a chance. When our mentally disabled child expressed a desire to play the violin we knew it wouldn't be a possibility for her; not only because of her mental capacity, but because of small muscle problems due to slight palsy. We didn't want her to fail, so we suggested she give the ukulele a try. We hired a college student to teach her. She could only learn one chord, but loved playing that chord and strumming as she sang "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." When she performed for the family we all applauded, and she was happy for her moment in the spotlight.

  • 3. Pay attention to the differences

  • Your children will have different talents and interests. It may take a little doing to discover what talents a child may have when he doesn't express an interest in anything particular. Watch your children and see where they excel. Give them opportunities to discover what they may be interested in once given the chance. Then, as they give it a try, celebrate their newfound talent, even if it's writing a simple poem or coloring a picture. Refrigerators were made for posting such things.

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  • 4. Support them as a family when they perform outside the home

  • Then bring the spotlight home by sharing the joys of a successful choir performance or a game well played. We know a family of four girls who have a tradition that the whole family attends every event when a member of the family is participating. They are an athletic family. That means many evenings are spent watching games and races. They celebrate as a family after each event, with all siblings praising the one who was out there trying her best. They care about each other. Being on the sidelines and shouting encouraging words to a sibling can be a bonding experience. When one wins, they all win. Afterwards, they enjoy a dessert at home and talk about the event together. If there's a loss, they're sad together and give needed encouragement. In their family prayers, they pray for each other's success and safety.

  • 5. Celebrate a good grade on a test

  • When a child does well on a test at school it's worth shining the spotlight on that child. Not only is it a real ego booster for that child, but it emphasizes that education is important in having a productive life. When a child fails or does not do well on a test, give comfort and encouragement. Ask how you and the rest of the family can help him. It may be that an older sibling can be an at-home tutor. In the process of praising good grades, it's vitally important to talk about the importance of learning the things that will help children throughout their lives. However, it's not just about grades. Grades are indicators of hard work and gaining knowledge. If a child moves from a C to a B in a subject, celebrate that. Shining the spotlight on improvement, no matter how small, is the key.

  • 6. Make birthdays special events

  • I think everyone in our family loved it when it was a sibling's birthday. It meant treats for all, and a house full of happy feelings. We would start the day out with breakfast in bed for the birthday boy or girl, with everyone gathering around to sing "Happy Birthday!" It was a fun way to start the day, and it would just get better after that. The kids would figure out little ways to make it special for their sibling. It was fun for them because it reminded them that their day would come.

  • Shining the spotlight on members of your family can bring a lot of joy into a home. Do it every chance you get. The payoff is BIG and lasting.

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Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships.

Website: http://garyjoylundberg.com

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