To me, the saddest thing in the world is self-hate among our young children and teens. At a young age, we need to be taught how to love ourselves and be at peace with our bodies. If we don’t reinforce this kind of positivity, our children will live their whole lives being uncomfortable with who they are.
Words can hurt our children a lot more than we think. Sometimes, words are more painful than a slap in the face. What’s even worse is that they stick with us and seem to linger in our minds forever. I remember a situation myself where I was craving attention, I simply said something like “That girl is prettier than me” the response I got was “Yes she is, and I bet she doesn’t crave compliments…” It completely took the wind out of my sales…they’d caught me out on my quest for attention and insulted me at the same time, I was 10, and that one comment has stayed with me my whole life as it was so cutting and unbelievable that a parent could say this, especially mine. So be mindful something you might have said or going to say, could haunt your child for the rest of his or her life. In your anger, you must be careful with your words. Your day might not be going well, but it gives you no right to hurl insults or direct your anger toward your children. A little joke or tease might sound funny to you, but can really wound somebody else.
We must teach our children how to love themselves before they love other people. It may seem selfish, but they need to know how to put themselves first. Once they are comfortable with themselves, that is when the healing process begins. Once they are at ease with their bodies, that is when they may open themselves up to others without feeling shame or embarrassment.
Our duty as a parent is to harvest self-love in your child. Learning from our experiences, positive and negative, this is our chance to get it right, and wipe the slate clean as to what ever has happened to us before.
Ask your child the following questions:
- If you havseparated: Do you ever feel like you’re the only child who lives with only one parent or whose parents live apart? When do you feel like that? What can we do to make you feel less alone?
- It’s important to know what you’re good at and to remind yourself about these good qualities. What do you think you’re good at? Do you ever remind yourself?
- Have you ever failed at something and then felt like you weren’t good at anything? What did you do?
- Some children feel better when they play with their friends, even if they are feeling down or bad. What can you do when you’re not feeling good?
What we need to help our children build upon:
A child’s self-esteem is helped by success and harmed by failure. Help your children set goals that they can really reach. Help them feel successful. Children need goals that fit and work into their lives. Help your child meet a goal by taking small steps. Only one child can be the fastest runner in the class. But every child can run around the park minute faster than before, and most children can work toward that goal a little bit at a time. Five seconds faster next week, five seconds faster the next week and so on.
Children also need to know how to deal with failure. Sometimes even the best children will not be able to meet some goals. Help your children learn something about themselves even when they fail. The only total failure is when they don’t learn anything from failure. When children don’t do well at school, they can learn to study more for tests or they may try some new study skills. When children do not succeed, help them look at what they did and find ways to do things differently next time. Remember to praise them for trying.
Being perfect is never the goal. And trying to be perfect all the time is a sure way to fail. Just help children try to do better.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. ” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Coping with tough times
Children also have those days when they feel frustrated. They tried to do something good and it didn’t work. Children must learn how to handle these times so that they don’t dislike themselves and let themselves become the enemy. When your children are feeling down, see if they would like to do something special for themselves. Remind them to treat themselves with kindness and love. People will treat you better if you treat yourself well.
You may know of other ways to remind children that they are worth caring about. Sometimes it helps them to be with other friends or family members that they like. Or perhaps they can think of something to do for someone else. Many times it helps to think about the needs of others and to help another person. It reminds us that we are important and have much to offer, even on a bad day.
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” – Christopher Reeve, the original superman who fell off a horse and was paralysed, ending his career as an actor, but went on to be a motivational patron.
In order to see themselves in a positive way, children must be able to see their strong points. Self-praise is basic to positive self-esteem. Children don’t praise themselves without help — it won’t happen automatically. Parents can help children think in positive terms by helping them see their strong points and talents. For example, at dinner or at the end of the day, ask your child, “What did you learn or do well today?” If you know about a success, you could say, “How do you feel about what you’ve done today?” or “I bet you feel good about what you did!”
Teaching children to praise themselves does not mean that you are teaching the child to brag. Bragging puts other people down: “I’m the fastest kid in my class.” “I’m better at math than anybody else.” Self-praise compares the past to the present (then and now). For example, “I can run a lot faster this year than last year,” or “I’ve really improved in maths.”
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha
Like all of us, children have those days when they don’t feel good about themselves. Nothing has gone right at school or a best friend said something mean. Let your children know that you care about how they are feeling. Try to spend time alone with each child every day. It could be when you’re in the car and the child is in the front seat with you. Or as you put each child to bed. Many parents find it important to have a little time alone with each child.
Remind them that everything we face in life, we need to look at it right in the face and make a choice…a choice to give up OR a choice to learn from the experience and not let it happen again.
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney
I hope this helps.
I will be at the Royal Beacon tomorrow 1st October, doing a talk on CBT at 1:15pm, please come and say hello.
Love and Warmth, as always.