One thirteen year old who we will call Andrea said, “For as long as I can remember I’ve had low self esteem. I just don’t like myself. I can’t even look at myself in the mirror without feeling depressed. I feel like such a loser. “
When asked why she feels this way about herself she responded, “I just never felt special. My parents never really pay any attention to me unless they’re yelling at me about something I did wrong. They’re so busy working and when they are home we never really talk. I feel like I’m a total stranger and unimportant to them.”
As a parent you want your children to grow to love themselves and others, be mentally strong, capable and independent as they travel through to adulthood. Therefore, it is your responsibility in the early stages of life to nurture them. You are the key to building their self-image in the early stages of life.
One of the things that can help you in this attempt is the words that you feed to your children. The love and encouragement that you speak to them can have a huge impact on how they will feel about themselves throughout life.
Say “I Love You”
Andrea’s parents never took the time to tell Andrea “I love you”. As a result, this only left room for her feelings of low self-esteem. She was never told how important she is or how much she is loved so she was never able to love herself. In her mind she thinks that she is unlovable and that there must be something wrong with her.
Saying “I love you” has more power than you could ever imagine in building your children’s self esteem. We are living in a world where they are faced with daily experiences outside of the home that can shape their self-image. One of your children might fail at an assignment at school or be teased by their peers. Saying “I love you” reinforces to the child that they are special no matter what anyone says or how often they fail.
Sadly, many children have never recalled hearing their parents say, “I love you” or “You are one of the best things that ever happened to me.” As a result, they never truly value themselves as they get older. These parents did not realize that words spoken or unspoken can have a great impact on a child’s self esteem as they get older.
Why I Love You
However, just telling a child “I love you” may not be enough. Children sometimes ask their parents, “What do you love about me?” It may be the way they light up a room with their charming personality. It may be that they are very helpful. Whatever it is, it’s important to let your children know. It might be helpful to make a list of things you love about them.
The encouragement that you give to your children can also have a great impact on them. Andrea, who was mentioned before, said that being teased by the kids at school didn’t do much to build her self-esteem. They often called her names and made fun of her because she was different. “I believed what the kids said about me because no one else told me differently.”
If you neglect to compliment your children and give them encouragement it will be easy for them to accept the negative messages that the outside world gives them. You do not want others to have more influence over your child than you because not everyone will have their best interest at heart.
Take the initiative to encourage your children when they do something right. If they do well on an exam let them know how proud you are. If they do all of their chores let them know that you appreciate how responsible they are becoming. Sometimes they may fail an exam or other activity. Rather than making negative comments that can lower their self esteem let them know that you believe in them and are always there to help.
Take notice of each child’s potential. They all have their own unique gift. When you observe your child’s talent encourage them to pursue it. This will help them to feel a sense of purpose and uniqueness. It will do wonders for their self-image.
Pray or Meditate
At the end of the day or at any time of day make it a habit to pray or meditate with your children. In each prayer ask for their safety and happiness. Give thanks to God for blessing you with them. This is a great way of saying “I love you.” It also reinforces to them how important they are and gives them even more reasons to love themselves.
You can also accomplish the same sense of self esteem with meditation. In each meditation you can help a child to visualize a sense of inner peace and self-worth by speaking about something that relates to them. For example, if they are feeling insecure about their first day of school you can fit this into your meditation session. Through your words you can help them to visualize being confident and secure on their first day. They’ve made some new friends or that their teachers turn out to be very nice.
Remember, your words will have the greatest impact on your children’s self esteem even before their close relatives, teachers or friends. From the moment your child comes out of the womb it is important to speak words of love and support to him or her. Even if you’ve missed the opportunity to do so, it is never too late to start on a new slate. It will do wonders for their self esteem.
The Definition Of Self Esteem