Sunday, October 30, 2011
Sometimes it can be hard to realize when our kids are suffering from low self-esteem. In addition to the fact that kids are growing up focusing more on the negative than the positive, and the media reinforces the stereotype that you have to look and act a certain way to be attractive or be considered “cool,” children are also growing up learning how to hide their feelings. It’s important for parents to take a leading, active role in their children’s lives to cultivate self-esteem and build it up to counteract any and all elements that are out to break it down.
So much of a person’s self-worth is determined when they are young. From early on we are inundated with what popular society deems is “perfect.” If you don’t fit into that mold -- and let’s be honest, people rarely do -- then you spend too much time viewing your perceived imperfections and dwelling on how to get rid of them. However if we, as parents, step up and actively take a role in promoting how wonderful our children are, we have a chance to put a halt to this negative self-talk that plagues everyone.
A lot of self-esteem building starts with you and your partner. It’s important to show your kids how much you appreciate your spouse so that they know what to look for in their own relationships. Kids are always watching their parents, even when you may think they don’t notice something. Giving positive feedback and constructive criticism is crucial in teaching our children what is right and wrong.
It’s also important to teach them to love themselves -- which also starts with you. Make it a point to stop negative self-talk. Instead of saying things like “I look fat,” focus on positive affirmations and say them out loud so your kids can hear. Likewise, tell your kids how great they look in outfits, how awesome their personality traits are, and reaffirm positive actions -- it all adds up. Shower them with love and affection so that they know they are valued.
Our children need to be stimulated as well. We’ve become lax in letting them watch TV and play video games all the time, when they really need to be challenged and be pushed comfortably outside of their comfort zone. We have to teach them that it’s good to take on challenges that are bearable, such as trying a new sport or taking up a new hobby. This doesn’t mean forcing them to do things that they hate, but it does mean encouraging them to branch out. It means teaching them that it’s okay to fail because we tried, but not to accept failure as the norm and expect to fail.
We have a responsibility to our children to teach them how important having a positive image is -- and not being conceited, but being confident. Our kids are slammed day in and day out with negatives, but we have the gift of being able to counteract that with positives. We are their biggest role models, and we have the gift of giving them high self-esteem … don’t waste that opportunity!
Nancy Parker was a professional nanny, and she loves to write about a wide range of subjects like health, parenting, child care and babysitting, find a nanny tips, etc. You can reach her at nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com.