Self-esteem starts as early as babyhood. It can start just because a child feels safe, loved, and accepted. As babies become toddlers they start wanting to do things all by themselves, in our house it’s typically Kalu our 2 year old spoon-feeding yoghurt everywhere but his mouth and hilariously calling himself ‘yoghurt monster’, and then on to becoming a young child where they are really starting to develop a sense of identity, and they feel good about themselves when they can use their new self developed skills.
Loving relationships, balanced feedback and encouragement are all good for self-esteem, but I know that you know that! It’s the demonstrating self love to our children that may require mindfulness.
It’s showing our children how we feel about ourselves, and how we demonstrate our self worth, yep, even when sleep deprived, over stretched and sometimes at the bottom of your own ’to-do’ list.
Self-worth is self-love. It means being on your own team. It means giving yourself the same respect, dignity, and understanding you want for your loved ones. Self-esteem is how you value yourself.
If you, as a parent are constantly putting yourself last, ignoring your own self care rituals, the things that make YOU feel good, then that’s not self love. Your children are learning by observation, so show them how to love. Show your child that you have a positive view of yourself.
When parents have high self-esteem, we’re more optimistic and able to transmit that positive mindset to our children. “Self-love influences everything in your life: who you pick for a mate, the image you project, and how you cope with problems”. Paul C Brunson.
Our self-esteem is part of our belief system, and this is cleverly stored in our unconscious mind. Now, the understanding of the unconscious mind is something that is way beyond my remit to explain, I do regularly practice yoga and meditation though and so basically for me, it comes down to an awareness. Being aware of any unhelpful thoughts as they pop in, waving them hello and then consciously waving them goodbye and replacing with a positive, uplifting, and quite frankly much more beneficial, belief.
'Beliefs are initially formed very early in childhood. They are formulated based on a combination of past experiences, circumstances and the emotions that we carry at the time. The problems start to occur when some of this information is either negative or disempowering. Our mind assumes these are 'facts' and will go on to create and store beliefs that in fact may not be accurate or even true’ (Huffington Post). These stored negative beliefs sit there in the unconscious mind, showing up to reinforce negative thoughts responding to certain situations.
Tony Robbins says 'Nothing in this world is so elusive yet so powerful as our beliefs. Negative beliefs can be changed; all it takes is digging a little deeper.'
So, with that in mind, I’ve created a little list on self esteem practices to strengthen your belief system and can also be easily demonstrated along with your little ones...
1. Identify your personal qualities. Put the words ’positive qualities’ into a search engine. You’ll find words such as patient, reliable, caring, organised, adventurous, persistent and loyal. Tick any that describe you and then narrow it down to the five words that you think most describe you. Then, for each word, write two or three sentences describing how and why you know you have that quality.
We bought Chia the Happy Journal for 3-6 year olds for Christmas and every day the diary gives us an opportunity to talk about her strengths, what she’s done that day to make herself happy and how she has perhaps made others feel.
2. Step outside your comfort zone - try new things. We went ice skating together last month, it was awful, but I tried! It made Chia incredibly happy and hopefully demonstrated to her that I had the bravery to try, even if I was the slowest mum on the rink.
3. Positive self talk - affirmations together, every morning. This is almost an easy one, but I know I’ve often been guilty of just completely focusing on what the kids are saying and how they’re feeling instead of perhaps listening to myself actually positively self talk.
4. Celebrate your wins. Ogo and I do boost each other, if one is struggling we will be their champion, cheering them over the finish line (bedtime), but every now and again we will chat to the kids about something we are really proud of ourselves for doing and then ask them to share the same.
5. Be open about your self positivity - love your uniqueness. We're in a household where we (the parents) are so obviously physically and culturally different to our children so there’s an abundance of differences we discuss. We really want to raise children who celebrate the uniqueness of others and so it’s a focus for us to discuss all differences in people and how we feel about that.
6. Accept your feelings and help your child to learn how to understand and deal with their feelings. “Tears fall for a reason and they are your strength, not weakness.” - Charlie Mackesy
8. Demonstrate the importance of self care, why we do it and how this looks for your children. For me it's prioritising a yoga practice or a bath with no visitors! With children, explaining self care can start with why teeth brushing is important, or how going to bed to get a good night’s sleep will help them to feel the next day.