December 4, 2018
Teaching kids that self-worth begins with loving yourself.
The only person that can decide your self worth is YOU. It begins in infancy. You are born into a family and if you are lucky you are surrounded by people that love you and dote over you. Your family gives you praise, loves you unconditionally and encourages you to go out into the world as you walk into your first pre-k classroom.
Parents worry that the world will hurt you or change you but they do it anyway. They know that with love comes risk and that the true job of a parent is to raise a child to be independent and to find a life that is meaningful to them. It is difficult sometimes since you never know the teacher your child will meet or the classmates they will encounter and it is scary.
There will be days that your child comes home crying because something wasn’t fair or someone said something that hurt their feelings. When these moments arise (and they will) remember that this is your opportunity to teach your child the greatest lesson of all. The importance of self-worth.
The truth is you can not change others behaviors. You cannot make people do or say what you want them to say. You can not control what they think of you. You only have control over your response to the situation and what you believe about yourself. The sooner you teach this to your kids the happier they will be. Do not give this power to someone else. Teach your kids the value of self-worth
Ask your kids what they believe about themselves and help them to find examples to back up their beliefs. Remind them of their behaviors and moments where they were kind to others and perhaps helped a friend. It seems that we are very good at remembering when we failed someone but not so good at recalling when we got it just right. It is important to forgive yourself when you make a mistake and understand that we all do.
Under the same circumstances, people have the option to decide how they want to respond and how they would like to show up in the world. Help your child to see those options. Imagine if you lived your life understanding that there are an infinite number of ways to respond to a situation and it all begins in your mind.
When we give others the power to change your mind and how you see yourself you can be left feeling undeserving and not-enough. The words become who we are. Instead, choose the words wisely as you gather descriptions of yourself from those around you. Be selective about what you decide makes you who you are and show the world that you are important and you have something to contribute.
Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.