I went to a workshop at Taryn's school last night about developing self esteem in your kids. The first thing the instructor, Gill Hines, said was that kids with high self esteem usually have parents with high self esteem and vice versa. This is one of the things that really weighs on me as a mom with not the best self esteem. I really want my kids to have a high self esteem and be confident in who they are as they grow up.
My parents tried everything to help me develop a better self esteem and be more confident in myself but it was a constant struggle. Last night, one of the things that I learned is that self esteem is built based on self image and your idea of what your perfect self should be which both are developed at very young ages. I am extremely hard on myself and my perfect self is nearly impossible to achieve. I have a long list of things I should do and how I should be as well as how I should look. My self image would never be able to reflect my perfect self which results in low self esteem.
A exercise that we did last night was to list 3 things that you like about yourself and 10 achievements you have attained over your life. I struggled so bad with these exercises...3 things that I like about myself is so hard. I can list 100 things that I don't like about myself but saying what I like and actually having to share it with others was causing me to have a slight panic attack. In the end, I came up with I like that I'm determined, that I'm competitive, and that I try to be accepting of others. Listing accomplishments was a whole different issue. I had to ignore voices in my head that kept saying, really that is an accomplishment or is that really something you did or nobody would think that's an accomplishment. At this point in the workshop, I realized that I'm willing to do whatever it takes so that my kids can answer these questions at any point in time and confidently share who they as well as their accomplishments.
Of course the best way to help your kids be able to have a higher self esteem is for me as the parent to demonstrate it. I was very grateful when she gave us a few exercises to do at home to start developing a better self esteem for us all. It starts with celebrating successes, regardless of how big or small. We need to say that I did this and I'm proud of myself. As a mom, I need to tell the kids that I'm going to learn x and then demonstrate the ability to learn a new skill. The willingness to try new things is a characteristic of someone with high self esteem, they are willing to give it a go as they say here. Also, she suggested putting up a bulletin board for everyone in the family and each one decorates it based on who they are and their accomplishments. It encourages everyone's uniqueness and to show off our accomplishments. Everyone who would walk into our house would have a good sense of who the 5 of us are as individuals. My favorite exercise which we will be starting next week is to sit at dinner and go around the table where everyone shares one thing I like about myself or one thing that I'm good at or one thing that I'm proud of myself for. I'm excited to start these exercises and see where it leads!
I love the idea of reinforcing that everyone is a unique individual. I love my kids for their differences and I want them to know that and be confident in that. I can't wait to update you in a few months about all the progress we have made!
If you are interested, take a look at Gill Hines' website at http://www.gillhines.co.uk/.
Some of my good, bad, and ridiculous photos who represents who I am...