I've got a massive fire in my belly about enabling my kids to experience self-worth.
Maintaining or building self-worth, I believe, is a life-long project. I say I want to enable my kids to experience it because it's not content based learning. It's not something you can teach by repeating "You are worthy! You are worthy!" We have to create an environment that allows them to experience it as part of their own truth.
This morning George (4) wakes up, stumbles bleary-eyed to my side of the bed and wiggles down into my arms under the blankets.
"Good morning George."
"Good morning Mum."
"I'm very proud of you."
"Why? What did I do?"
Break through Mother moment. At 4, George already feels as though he has to do something tangible, physical or external for me to be telling him I'm proud of him. That he has to have been good at something, to have been kind, helpful, beautifully behaved, made great choices, you know, some display of pure awesomeness if I'm telling him I'm proud of him.
But self-worth is not about measuring yourself based on external actions. It is about valuing your inherent worth as a person. People who experience positive self-worth are more likely to try new things, to have ambitions and believe that they can be successful, to stand by what they believe in instead of being easily swayed by the opinion of others, to believe they are deserving of kindness and respect, to run their own race and to have the resilience to cope with disappointments or set backs in life.
"Nothing." I say. "I'm always proud of you. Just because you're you."
Note to self: be careful not to only give praise for good behaviour, excellence/performance, and acts of kindness. We can't always be above average OR our best selves. We have busy, messy, chaotic lives. No matter what is going on, or how we have behaved, we are valuable, wonderful humans with infinite potential.
Wait, are we still talking about George, or do we teach what we need to learn ourselves?
So how DO we build self-worth in kids?
Here's a list of things that I do with my kids (who are pre-school age) with the intention of building self-worth (amongst other things!):
As you can see, a lot of mine are based around reinforcing that they are capable, they have effective skills to deal with life's challenges, and they are accepted and respected unconditionally.
There are millions more opportunities. I'd love to hear yours. Tell me in the comments, what's one thing you do you do to help build self-worth in your kids?
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