It took me a long time to gain any real self esteem for myself. Adopted at 8, on my own at 15 with a slew of people in my path who took advantage of me made it hard to find much value in myself. As I have aged and reconnected with my birth brothers, and as I have rebuilt a life after a bad marriage and divorce, my self esteem has soared. Now that I am steady on my feet I am watching my three daughters watch me. I don't want them to have self-doubt, issues with a flaw that others might pick on or the unsteady trust in who they are that I suffered from. So I am making a real effort to build my kids' self esteem. The best way I have found to do that is to have it myself! We learn by example more than any other way. So how can we show self esteem even when we are at our lowest? Here are some tips below!
I have no issue with my kids watching me explore any emotion I may have. They have seen my cry, get angry and bounce around in silly laughter. But when I am scared or wavering in my ability to handle things, I take a deep breath and power through anyway. Even if I have to fake it, I want them to see me conquer a fear. I may not exhale until I am safely in my shower, away from little eyes, but if I want to teach my kids to stand by who they are and their decisions, I have to do it too. Sometimes in the process of faking it, I find hidden self esteem I did not know I had.
I screw up. A lot. More than I probably even want to admit. I am human, after all. But hiding that I make mistakes, even big ones, from my girls sets up an image of perfection I don't want them to have. Since self esteem sometimes takes a hit with a mistake, they need to watch me recover and believe in myself again. So letting them witness the face-plant and then the effort to get up and hold my head high again can only be a great thing to show them how to do it themselves.
As a mom, I want to Band-Aid every cut, hug out every tear and protect my kids from unhappiness at every turn. But when it comes to self esteem, I have to let them question theirs or it won't stick. Just as I question my abilities, I have to let them too. By constantly praising them and not allowing them to be a little scared of what they think about themselves, I am taking away their ability to figure it out. As they age and the kids get meaner, I want them to have that natural ability to know that they are better than the words. So, as a mom, I have to let them question their abilities.
Women are amazing. We can balance a life full of change and drama and still get up the next morning to do it again. We also have the uncanny ability to down ourselves at every turn. I don't know if it is because "society" tells us to, but I can tear myself down in a heartbeat. The hardest thing I had to allow myself to be was confident. Proud. Slightly arrogant, even. I have heard the same downplaying of accomplishments from my kids. "I am ugly, I am not smart enough, I feel so dumb." and it breaks my heart. Just as I try to counteract my own feelings of self doubt with a list of accomplishments, I do the same with them. Brag to your kids. Point out what you did well. They might just learn to do the same and to give themselves a break too.
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