As Proactive Parents, we are preparing our children physically, emotionally, and socially for life in the real world without us. This doesn’t just mean when they grow up and leave home, it means when they have to go anywhere or do anything without us, such as starting school and childcare.
The foundations we build to support them now, such as having routines and fostering self-confidence and self-belief within them will be essential.
Our children are our prize possession, so we have to make them feel like the prize. Their self-esteem will be determined by the respect, admiration, and appreciation they receive.
That’s why we are ultimately aiming for a Selfish child!
This word is not to be misunderstood or taken in a negative, egocentric context though. Here, when referring to making our children more selfish, we mean we are helping them to build more of the five self’s below;
SELF-BELIEF – What our children believe they can do, achieve, or be.
SELF IMAGE – How our children view themselves, for example; how they see their intelligence or physical attractiveness.
SELF RESPECT – How well our children look after and treat themselves generally, including diet and exercise.
SELF CONFIDENCE – How our children act or assert themselves and how sure they are in their own ability.
SELF ESTEEM – How our children regard and acknowledge their good qualities and think and feel about themselves in general. Including how much they like themselves or believe that they are a good person, deserving of all the good that life has to offer or not. And how close their ‘real self’ is in alignment with their ‘ideal self’. That is—how they feel they measure up against the version of themselves they think they should or the way they want to be.
These five selves all impact upon one another, but not always. One child may have a good self-image and find themselves attractive, but may not have any confidence in their academic ability. Another may excel at sports but have low self-esteem in every other area of their life, it just depends on what they place value or importance on in their lives.
Children just want to fit in and feel like everyone else. If such a definition as ‘normal’ exists, then that’s how we want to help our children feel.
We can do this by validating at every opportunity that how our children feel is normal and okay, such as, it’s normal to get angry when someone snatches a toy off them.
This can be difficult, as our first response to our children’s undesirable behaviour is to insist they act or feel a certain way that’s more acceptable. For example, if they get angry and shout or hit out at the injustice they think they’ve received from the other child who snatched a toy off them, our first reaction would be to tell them not to be angry and that ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ and usually we insist they say sorry to the other child they have upset, but we can often forget to validate that their feelings of anger were normal under those circumstances. Because they can’t articulate in words to the child who snatched the toy off them how they feel, they get frustrated and angry. Yet most if not all children would feel the same.
The reason we don’t validate their anger is because we don’t like to see our children angry as it can be an unkind, ugly emotion at times, so we try to prevent or stop it, and this serves to make our children feel bad or wrong for feeling angry.
We can only go so far in helping our children though, they play the most important part themselves, so it’s time to step back and allow them to be themselves.
This should come naturally, yet with so much influence and input from others, over time, they can find being themselves is not so good. That’s when they try to change themselves to fit in or to become accepted by others. This can be damaging to their self-esteem and can affect their self-confidence in all areas of their lives, sometimes creating unhealthy habits.
Our children knowing themselves is essential to their happiness, health, and success. But only they can learn who they really are and discover what they really like, without knowing this, they will be aiming at the wrong goals in life.
Socrates the philosopher once said ‘Know thyself’ but this can be perplexingly difficult for our children at times as they are constantly changing.
We can support them in their uncertainty by helping them form a positive impression of themselves and life in general while they are young. This is important because they carry their beliefs about themselves as a child into adulthood, and those beliefs determine what they do and who they become in the future. Our children will become whoever they believe themselves to be. Yet a large contribution of beliefs and their self-image will be formed from other people’s perspectives.
Unfortunately, other people’s negative opinions about them can stick in their young, impressionable minds, even as adults. These create self- limiting beliefs’ which we will explore in the next blog, that can hold them back if not challenged.
If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, Stay Present,