“Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry.”
That’s a powerful statement and so important when raising your child. With a world full of bullies, hate, prejudice and other self-esteem crushers, we need to be the river of self-esteem that flows into our children.
Tell your child that they are beautiful (or handsome). Tell them that they are lovable. Tell them that they are smart. Tell them that they are worthy. Tell them that they are important. Tell them that they can do and be anything that they want in their life. And tell them often. Be the voice in their head that tells them they are a wonderful person.
Your child will believe what you tell them so make sure your words are positive. Tell them often enough that they believe it and they will not succumb to hatefulness and bullying. Bullies prey on the weak and self-doubters. Make your child strong and confident with the words you say to them, about them.
The flip side of this is one that is a personal peeve of mine. It unnerves me to hear a parent belittle their child. The fact is that the parent usually doesn’t mean the cruel words that they say to their child, it’s a knee jerk reaction in a heat of the moment situation. But words hurt as much as physical pain and they don’t forget it, ever. It’s sad how much a parent’s harsh words can affect a child’s self-image. Something as flippant as saying “how can you be so stupid?” will make the child feel stupid. Choose your words carefully and never, ever criticize your child.
Be critical of actions, but not the kid. Actually those are good words to live by no matter who the person is you are dealing with. But children are so much more sensitive and impressionable, especially from their parent. If you tell someone enough times that they are stupid, they will believe they are stupid. Call them crazy so many times and they will believe they are crazy. Your child will become what they think you believe about them, and they get that information from you and the words you say to them. If your son is pulling your daughter’s hair, don’t call him mean. Tell him that is a hurtful thing to do. Put the blame on the action and he will learn how to behave without losing his self-worth.
Words are so powerful to a child. Something we, as adults, would just brush off, a child takes to heart and believes. Or maybe you know someone who can’t just brush off a character assassination. Chances are their parents ridiculed them as a child and they never developed a healthy self-image. It’s our job as parents to ready our children for the world. A healthy self-esteem that holes can’t be poked into is one of the best defenses you can give your child to make them strong and resilient to the ugliness they will encounter in life.
We won’t always be there to defend our kids, so we need to build their inner strength so they can handle themselves. Building up their self-esteem is one of the best ways. Grow strong children by using words that make them feel confident about themselves. You will both be a lot stronger for it.