Wednesday, 24 October 2012
Raising Kids With Good Self-Esteem
I was speaking to a friend yesterday. She was letting off some steam, venting about her daughter's lack of self-esteem. "We encourage her, we do everything that we know how to do, but she doesn't think that she's good enough." I wished that I had the magic answer for her, but I don't. I guess that the best that you can do, is well, the best that you can do.
Growing up I never felt like I was pretty enough, thin enough, or that I was good enough. This chronic lack of self esteem led me to make decisions that I would have never made if I'd had great self-esteem. I come from a long line of women with poor self-esteem. I am bound and determined to break this cycle. I think that the first step in breaking the cycle is to learn to accept myself. It has taken me a good many, many years, but I am o.k. with me now. Could I loose some weight? Oh you bet. Does it make me feel badly about myself that I am overweight? Not really. I have a husband who loves me for the me inside, it's hard to do much better than that. I feel like I no longer need outside validation to be alright with me. I sure hope that I have figured out part of the puzzle.
From the time my kids were born I have told them how beautiful they are, are smart they are, how loved they are. I wanted my children to be bathed in love and admiration. This to me at the time seemed like the perfect way to give them self-esteem, I would force feed it to them. I have come to discover that although done with the best of intent, perhaps my methods are flawed. I was force feeding them self-esteem externally, depriving them from discovering it and growing it themselves.
If you ask my girls who is the prettiest girl in the class they will tell you without missing a beat that it is them. Perhaps they are too confident. I have tried now to back off a little on the force feeding, but that too has back fired. My kids need to be praised. If they ask if I like something that they have done, they expect me to tell them that it is the best thing that I have ever in my whole life seen. If I tell them that they did a great job, but I think that they could do better if they tried just a little harder, you would think that I had told them I hated them. I have created praise junkies.
I guess that it is back to the drawing board. My new approach is to still bath them in love, but to encourage their own growth of self-esteem. I am trying not to "over praise", but also to not be overly critical. I am trying to model good self-esteem, and I hope that helps too. I'll let you know how this new approach of mine is working in 20 years or so. Man this parenting thing is hard.