by Jennifer Shakeel
In today’s society it is hard for an grown adult to have high self esteem, so imagine what it is like for a child. Bombarded by images on television, in magazines, billboards as well as the radio that very few people can live up to. It is important that we are teaching our children how to like who they are as people. Liking yourself is what self esteem is.
There are a number of books you can read and books that you can get for your child that all talk about self esteem and how to improve it, but if you are interested in what works the best then you need to take a look at what you are doing as a parent. The best role model in the world is you. How you talk to your child, and respond to what they say has a huge impact on their level of self esteem.
I will never forget the day that my daughter came home and asked me if I thought she was fat. I asked her why she would ever think she was fat, “I don’t look like Britney Spears.” I looked at her and told her that she was an absolutely beautiful 5 year old that had way more going for her then Miss Britney did, and so far I have been right. Yes, I said five years old… she was in kindergarten. It broke my heart really.
I struggled with self esteem issues most of my life. I didn’t want my children to ever have any doubt in how wonderful they are. Each and everyday I tell them how wonderful they are… and I brag about them to anyone that will listen. Are they perfect? Are they the spitting images of what the magazines and billboards and Disney try to tell them they should be… no they aren’t… they are better.
My daughter struggles still with whether or not she thinks she is thin enough. Not because of what we tell her at home, but because of the pressures she faces as a teenager and her friends she still struggles. My son is on the verge on teenagehood and he struggles but not as much as my daughter. So to help all of you that watching your sons and daughters struggle with self esteem issues I would like to offer a number of tips. Keep in mind, the younger your children are the better it is to start following these tips, but it is never to late.
Tip One: Pay attention to your child and what interests them. That lets them know that they matter and are important.
Tip Two: Avoid saying things like, “I love you, but don’t like you.” Okay, I am guilty of saying this to my children on the occasion. I have altered it to let them know that I don’t like what it is they have done. I have also told them since they were very young that I understand that there are going to be times that they don’t like me, and they are entitled to that. But that doesn’t change our love for one another, or how wonderful we think one another is. It is very important to differentiate the actions from the child and make sure they realize they have your unconditional love, but it is their actions which are bad and you don't like.
Tip Three: Don’t compare them with siblings or others. I know this is hard. Especially when you are trying to motivate them to get up and do something. But comparing them to others can make them feel as though they aren’t good enough.
Tip four: Tell them very often how much you love them and that you are glad that they are who they are. I tell my children at least once day that I am luckiest mom in the world for having them as my children.
Tip five: Spend time with them doing what it is they want to do. Listen to their point of view and help them achieve their goals.
Tip Six: Support their school work. Don’t expect your child to make school work a priority if you aren’t going to make their school work a priority.
Tip Seven: Get involved in their school. I know it’s hard especially if you have to work full time, but try to make a field trip or volunteer for an event at the school or spend your lunch hour in the classroom. Let them know you are there and you are supporting them.
Tip Eight: Encourage them to make friends, welcome their friends into your home.
Tip Nine: Help your child explore any hobbies or talents they have.
Tip Ten: Don’t do everything for them. In order for your child to know that they can accomplish something they need to know they are capable of doing it. If you constantly do everything for them you are taking that confidence away.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse. As a mother of two incredible children, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting. One of my children has ADHD, our journey of learning to come to terms with the diagnosis and figuring out what works best for us has been a challenge and a joy. Our son was diagnosed about two and half years ago, and we have had our ups and downs, joys and sorrows. If I can just offer you one day of hope or one idea that may work to help you and your family then I know that my purpose has been fulfilled.
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