“High self-esteem is not noisy conceit. It is a quiet sense of self-respect, a feeling of self-worth.”
~ Dorothy Corkille Briggs
Ever wish you could take back something that you said? Yeah, me too. Once when my son was little he was playing outside and suddenly came running in the house excitedly exclaiming, “Mom, look what I found.” It was an old, mostly-used up roll of electrical tape. I apparently was having a very bad day because I blurted out, “Who cares?”
Jeez, what did I say that for? If I used my thinking brain I would have said something gentle like, “Oh, you find such pleasure in the little things in life, my sweet, sweet son.” But no, with my reptilian brain as a weapon I went right for my son’s self-esteem jugular. My son is now 27 years old and a great young man, but that incident is stamped into my memory for eternity. Even though most of the time I said and did the right things and tried hard to raise both my kids to be lovable and confident with a boatload of self-worth, boy, do I wish I could go back in time and re-do that moment.
Well, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, read on for some tips that encourage your children to have a healthy image of themselves. (By the way, none of them include asking “who cares?”).
- Show unconditional love; accept them for who they are and don’t try to make them who you want them to be.
- Have conversations with your children; don’t preach, don’t lecture, but teach your values.
- Listen to your children without judgment; not always easy but crucial for open communication.
- Set boundaries using discipline, not punishment (there’s a difference); and NO SPANKING.
- Encourage and support your children’s interests; give them the tools and information they need to succeed.
- Act the way you’d like your children to act; they pay lots of attention to your behavior.
- Don’t call your children names and don’t make fun of them.
- Use humor in your parenting (but don’t use sarcasm – children don’t understand sarcasm).
- Work at understanding what makes your children tick; learn about child development.
- Go for professional help if you are struggling.
This is by no means a complete list. And we all have our moments when we lose it and say or do the wrong thing. But if we try to do our best most of the time our children will be okay.
By Claire Gawinowicz, Certified Parenting Educator