Through years of observing and noticing what works best for me and my students, I’ve come up with a list of my top five ways to teach your children how to love themselves.
1. Make them feel important.
When your kids want to talk to you, put aside what you’re doing, look them in the eye and be genuinely interested in what they’re talking about. It may only take a minute or two for the entire conversation, but it will make such a positive lasting impression for them. The last thing you want is for them to feel that your iPhone is more important than they are.
Also, say “I love you” all the time. No, it won’t lose its effect if you use it multiple times throughout the day. Make sure that they never doubt that you love them. Even when they get a bit older and they seem like they’re sick of hearing it, they’re not. Keep saying it.
Another pointer: When talking to friends or relatives, I know it can be easy to vent about the latest trouble your mini-me’s may have gotten into. Try to focus on the good, and make sure they overhear you praising and speaking highly of them.
2. Give them opportunities to stretch outside of their comfort zone.
If they normally like to take dance classes, encourage a soccer camp or music lessons. Letting your kids see that there’s little to be afraid of when trying new things will give them the confidence to make this a lifelong habit. Who knows? This could encourage them to do a stint with Americorps or travel to foreign countries as young adults. These enriching experiences, paired with the confidence to pull it off will result in more self-love.
3. Show them how to give to others.
When you give to others, whether with time or material things, you experience such a beautiful feeling. You feel warm and connected to others. You realize that those you are helping are important and worthy. In turn, you’ll feel the same for yourself.
This shouldn’t just be delegated to the holiday season, either. Make it last throughout the year. I know life gets busy, but try to gently prioritize your life. What’s truly important to you? Not to everyone else, but to you. This will help you find time for the things that you want to do and experience.
4. Encourage your children to see their strengths.
What are they really good at? The skills and strengths that we all possess are not necessarily traditional or obvious. You may have to dig a little to find those original and unique little nuggets, but once you do, you start to notice all of the areas that a particular strength comes in handy. It’s pretty cool, actually. Do this activity together, find your own strengths as well. Help each other out if you need to. That can be a really nice bonus, too.
5. Show them by example.
Take time for yourself, away from your responsibilities. Eat healthy foods. Spend time with positive and uplifting people. Speak highly of yourself and others. Cultivate a satisfying hobby. Exercise. Drink lots of water. Cultivate a positive mindset towards yourself and life in general.
Children learn by example. We can tell them to do these things over and over but if they see us living in a way that contradicts our advice, they won’t be nearly as likely to take it on for themselves. Not only that, but you’ll be a happier mama overall, and have so much more energy to spend on numbers 1-4 above.
I hope these tips help you to encourage and teach your children to love themselves. The sky is the limit when we already feel great about ourselves, and I definitely want my children to be able to be, do and become anything they want. I want them to experience amazing things in life and not be held back by limiting beliefs about themselves.
Alex Chatzoglou Special Education Teaching Professional