(3-minute read) Growing up, feeling good about myself was a daily challenge. I recognized that I was friendly, independent, active and fun-loving, but the fact that I was a little chubby and uncoordinated was always on my mind. I let those flaws overshadow my many positive qualities. Although I’ve come a long way since I was younger, I brought those same insecurities into adulthood, which has resulted in me being critical of myself inside and out.
That being said, when I became a mother I took seriously my responsibility to model the behaviors and traits that I wanted to see in my daughters. This meant keeping those two insecurities to myself. I didn’t want them to creep into my daughter’s heads and somehow influence their self-esteem and confidence. For example, until a few years ago they never saw me participate in sports when other parents were playing, because I didn’t want them to see my lack of ability. They never heard me comment about myself looking fat or not looking good in an outfit. Nor did they hear the opposite, that I was feeling good or pretty. Yet, I would tell them not to worry about what others might think, to simply be themselves – to just get out there and have fun.
Despite my best intentions, as a result of trying to hide a part of myself I was sending confusing and contradictory messages. By doing one thing and saying (or not saying) another, these messages could have the exact opposite effect of what I hoped on my daughters.
When I realized this, I began to pay attention to daily situations, and the potential impact my response could have – for better or for worse. And then I began shifting how I verbally responded – sometimes slightly and sometimes significantly – in order for my daughters to take away the messages I wanted them to learn. The response has made a profound impact on our lives.
Given I subscribe to the philosophy that moms need to support one another, I figured I would share 9 common situations and various ways to respond that send positive messages.
When you make a mistake.
- “Nobody’s perfect.”
- “Oh well, no biggie.”
- “Life goes on even though I made a mistake.”
–> lesson learned – Perfection is not realistic for anyone. Mistakes are okay.
When there’s a problem (not a major one).
- “This isn’t a big deal.”
- “I can deal with this.”
- “I’m glad this a small problem.”
–> lesson learned – It’s important to keep things in perspective. (Children need help distinguishing between big and small or insignificant problems.)
When you’re faced with a big challenge.
- “This isn’t easy, but I’m going to keep trying.”
- “I just keep telling myself, I think I can.”
- “I’m not going to give up. I’m going to get this.”
–> lesson learned – Having a positive attitude and being optimistic.
When you finally succeed and overcome the challenge:
- “My persistence paid off.”
- “I’m so glad I stuck with it. I feel really good about myself.”
- “The next time I think I can’t do something, I’m going to remember this.”
–> lesson learned – Persistence pays off.
When you have a fight with your spouse, family member, or friend.
- “I don’t like fighting with people, but I know we can always work it out or can simply agree to disagree.”
- “It all got resolved, and we still love each other.”
- “I’m glad that even after fighting we go right back to where we left off.”
–> lesson learned – It’s healthy to address differences. Fighting is not the end of the world, especially when there’s a strong foundation. It doesn’t mean those in the fight don’t love or respect each other anymore. When it ends, things go back to normal.
When you try something new.
- “I’m really glad I tried this. I can’t wait to do it again.”
- “I feel good about myself.”
- “Even though I don’t like it, I’m happy I gave it a shot.”
–> lesson learned – Trying new things makes you feel good. And even if it’s something you never want to do again, you rarely regret it.
When things don’t work out the way you planned.
- “I wish things turned out differently, but there’s always next time.”
- “I failed at this but I’m now more determined than ever to succeed next time.”
- “I can’t be good at everything. I’m just happy to be part of it, and to learn and grow.”
–> lesson learned – Resilience. When you’re knocked down, just get back up and soldier on.
When you’re dressed for any occasion.
- “I really like the way I look.”
- “I feel as good as I look (or vice versa).”
- “I am beautiful (or pretty).”
–> lesson learned – It’s actually good to say (and think) positive things about yourself. It’s not necessarily bragging (which many kids, especially girls, seem to have difficulties with deciphering),
When you’re upset or angry.
- “I’m really upset that things didn’t work out the way I hoped.”
- “She makes me so angry when she does that.”
- “I feel sad that my friend forgot we had plans.”
–> lesson learned – There are no wrong feelings. And it’s okay to express all emotions. In fact, it’s healthier to lean in and “feel” these feelings than push them aside (they will still exist but just in a different form).
While saying some of these things may feel strange or even untrue, why not try to FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT. I know, it sounds like b.s. or even lying. But if you think of it like positive affirmations (saying things we don’t believe as if they are true) it can eventually change our feelings about ourselves.
Frankly, I didn’t believe it would work for me. But I can honestly say it did. I’m not sure when it happened, but I now truly love myself both inside and out. Give it a shot and see firsthand the positive impact this approach can have on both you AND your child.Share: