Self-love and Compassion

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Self-esteem is one of the most important traits you can build as a child. Professor Baumeister of Florida State University, believes that the self-esteem we build in childhood serves as a baseline for our potential for self-love throughout our lives, and a big part of it comes from the relationships with our parents during those early years. Solid self-esteem grows out of a secure attachment to a parent; it can fail to form if a parent isn’t very supportive or lacks concern for his or her child.
The best thing for a child’s confidence is the truth. They need an adult figure to tell them when they’re doing something right, and kindly remind them when they could work harder to improve a task. For example, you can tell them that they have a good imagination, and also tell them that they could be more inclusive with some friends, then remind them that they can work on it. Telling children honestly how they’re doing as are figuring out life will optimize their self-esteem, and encourage them to carry that with them throughout their adulthood.
If a child already has shown signs of low self-esteem, going about building it back up needs to be done very carefully. The brain of someone who has high self-esteem differs from that of someone with low self-esteem. When a person with little self-love, engages in self-affirming activities that work for someone who has positive self-love, they won’t magically believe that it’ll work for them too. The person with low self-esteem will use this method as a trial run, convinced that it doesn’t work until they’re proven wrong. Because of this, mimicking the traits of someone with confidence in themselves generally won’t work the same way. If it does work, it won’t last long-term. This will cause feelings of failure when that is absolutely not the case.
Parenting tip
Helping your child build their self-esteem now might seem overwhelming at first, so we’ve found a couple of tips that might help you to find and set new goals as a parent or caregiver. Remember that if it seems like it’s too much at once, try one tip at a time and move on from there.
1. Those with healthy self-esteem accept themselves even when they face rejection or failure. When your child fails, be sure to ask them what it means to them. Based on their answers, try to guide them to the knowledge that everyone fails, and that it doesn’t make you or anyone else love them any less. You can even point out that they shouldn’t love themselves any less either.
2. Periodically ask your child if they think that they are good or bad. Teach them that this answer is their choice, and no one else’s. If they say that they are bad, ask them what makes them think this way then help them set goals that will make them feel kinder toward themselves. (See our January Newsletter for more on setting goals).
3. Your child will inevitably make mistakes. Learning coping skills is imperative to gain a healthy perception of themselves. Find what works best for you, but here are some examples: Meditation, exercise, do breathing exercises, paint, draw, or write it out, etc.
4. When they are successful, choose to enjoy these moments together as a family. Teaching kids to celebrate their sibling’s and others’ successes will help create a positive environment. When one sibling or friend consciously sets out to be supportive of the other, the other notices and becomes more supportive in return. This will prove to be true later on in life as well.
5. Be aware of social comparisons. An artist who compares herself to a less-talented artist will feel superior, but if she compares herself to someone more talented, she’ll likely feel worse—even though her own talent and skills haven’t changed. Show your kids that they can compare their growth to themselves. Try to beat their personal best, and take the focus off of whether someone else is better or worse.
Overall, teach your kids to love themselves no matter what. Studies have shown that those who are self-compassionate are less depressed and have stronger feelings of self-worth. Self-compassion helps you and your family realize that flaws are part of being human and that failure connects us to others. Remember that self-love and self-esteem
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