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.

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