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Shut Down the Negative Chatter to Build Self-Esteem

Shut Down the Negative Chatter to Build Self-Esteem

As a mother of two teenage daughters, and a woman who speaks with countless moms about their children, one of the biggest concerns seems to be a lack of self-esteem. When speaking in further detail about it, I come to realize that some of the children do in fact have healthy self-esteem, but aren’t confident.

The words self-esteem and confidence are often used interchangeably, when in fact they are different (although related). So before talking about helping boost our child’s self-esteem, it’s necessary to explain the difference.

Confidence is related to an action – how you feel about your abilities. It builds by taking action — by trying things you find hard, by going outside your comfort zone. If you work at something, bit by bit, you will become more confident in your abilities. 

It’s easier to build confidence because you can be confident about one part of your life, while being uncomfortable about another. Self-esteem is basically how you feel about yourself overall – how much self-love you have. A healthy self esteem affects your confidence because when you love yourself, it makes you more confident in your actions. 

Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, the question remains, what can we do to help our children love themselves? The answer isn’t so simple. We cannot give our children self-esteem (although it would be the most wonderful gift). And our words of praise don’t build self-esteem. Yes, praising our child might make them happy and/or feel good, but it teaches them to act in order to get approval and reward. It does not help them develop their own sense of self-worth.

Healthy self-esteem comes from within (thus the word “self”). 

Having control over our lives and what happens as a result of our actions and our choices helps develop a sense of pride. This strong sense of self is maintained whether we’ve achieved what we set out to do, or we’ve failed.  

Having a healthy self-esteem does not mean always feeling good about ourselves.  

It does mean that even when our behaviors or decisions aren’t necessarily the best ones, the feeling of discomfort motivates us to make changes. It also means that the way we value and respect ourselves, as well as our abilities, is what will enable us to thrive.

The best way to nurture a healthy self-esteem is to shut down the negative chatter. 

We all have little voices inside our heads that talk to us about ourselves. It’s called self-talk. It can be positive like, “You’re smart.” Or, it can be negative, like, “You don’t listen well.”  By saying negative things to ourselves, we tend to reinforce them in our actions.

The first step to changing negative self-talk into positive is awareness. 

Ask your child to write down the beliefs they have about themselves, all of the things they say to themselves in a given day – when they look in the mirror, are learning and working on difficult tasks or even navigating relationships. Want to strengthen your relationship and make it easier for them, do it with them. Write down yours as well and go through this self-esteem building process together. It might be surprising to realize how much (and often) the negative chatter is swirling around our heads. From there, a shift in thinking can begin. 

The more we practice positive self-talk, the easier it becomes – and the less negative self-talk we will have. 

Encourage your child to start saying positive statements to themselves – and motivate them to do so by sharing with them your own positive statements. This process enables us to recognize all of the great things about ourselves, which leads to positive change. 

Here are just a few examples:

  • I am kind.
  • I am strong.
  • I am brave.
  • I am capable.
  • I am calm.
  • I work hard.
  • I like the way I look.

It might seem silly, but in order to change the silent thinking in our heads, we first have to change our words. That means that saying positive affirmations out loud – actually hearing the words ourselves is more impactful. Want to take it one step further, recite positive affirmations while looking in a mirror (which also might seem strange). Why? Because actually seeing ourselves say the words makes it easier to believe. This shift from negative to positive is the key. 

Having a positive attitude and way of looking at things boosts self-esteem. 

Being positive is very powerful. By thinking about something in a positive way – even before it’s true – will make it more likely to become true. And as you probably know, positivity is all sorts of powerful. Aside from boosting self-esteem, it increases productivity and decreases anxiety, as well as overall health problems. Now who doesn’t want all of that?

Have a daughter who you want to help further enhance her self-esteem? Join us for GAALS Love Yourself Camp on Nov 5th. While this camp is for girls in elementary school, we are super excited to now offer what you’ve been asking for –  Leadership / Mentoring Program for teenage girls. Your daughter joins the younger girls and will be given special leadership opportunities. We will work with her and teach her how to inspire and motivate the girls through positive communication. She will also engage in conversations about what it means to be a leader, ultimately learning and practicing proven strategies. Perhaps most importantly, your daughter will feel an increased sense of self-worth while serving as a role model for the younger girls. This is a win-win for everyone! Space in this special program is extremely limited, so please sign up in advance.

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