Saturday, September 24, 2011

Quickest way to kill your child's self esteem...

So I realized the other day that I was doing something detrimental. Something that I thought was innocent and done without much thought.

Let me start off by asking you how often your children have thrown a tantrum in public and you've fervently whispered to them, "EVERYONE is staring at you! Stop it!" because you're embarrassed and want them to behave?

I'll raise my hand! I've done that so many times.

I've even said, "Everyone can hear you throwing your fit!" when my kids are indoors throwing a fit. Beyond the desperation to end a full-blown tantrum I've also said things like, "Why don't you let me do your hair like that little girl?" or "See? I told you little girls like to wear that outfit!" I've pouted when my daughters have refused the hair style or the clothes, telling them, "Well other little girls like to do that"!

It dawned on me that I'm teaching my daughters to care what other people think about them and to judge them for what they wear, how they look and that those opinions matter. I'm also teaching them to look at others and judge.

Of course that isn't my true heart!!! I want my children to be confident in themselves and to not mind the opinions others may have toward them. Instead I should be encouraging their own creative efforts and trends (unless immodest in which I will protest and which is totally different - there are limits and as a parent I must set boundaries).

I think I've said those things because I want my kids to be confident and I thought that meant making them clones of other little girls who appear a certain way. Instead, in the past few weeks since the light bulb went off over my head, I've embraced each of my daughters' styles and have dropped the judgements. Not that I haven't ever embraced their personal styles because I have... but I've also heaped opinions on what they don't do and that isn't right.

Elaina loves more of the trendy clothes that are popular with kids close to the tween age (jeggings, leggings, Sketchers, skulls and graffiti, etc.). She also loves to do her hair very specific and unique ways! I love to see what she comes up with for her hair.

Abigail is my t-shirt and jeans girl (and she loves jackets!). She LOVES glitter, rainbows, hearts and unicorns. She loves her "Dorothy" shoes (as in The Wizard of Oz) and her silver dress shoes to dress up her t-shirt and jeans combo. The best part of Abigail's tastes include her eccentric socks. She can be wearing a baby blue shirt with shorts and throw on some orange and yellow candy-corn socks with her ruby red Dorothy shoes. And I've always loved that about her! She never lets me put her hair up, though. 

Zoƫ loves dresses and skirts that are colorful; still getting to know her tastes as she's not yet 2 but she definitely loves clothes and shoes. If I say, "Let's get dressed" she gets super excited and goes to her closet. If I need her to wear something other than a dress I have to remember to say, "Let's go get your clothes on" instead of "Let's get dressed" because she thinks the latter means she is wearing a dress and that is that.

The worst thing we can do in killing our children's self esteem is to compare them to others and make them feel like their choices are not good enough. The best thing we can do to build their self esteem is to encourage their individuality and give them choices. (When it comes to modesty, however, it is a teaching opportunity to encourage them to value themselves and their private areas.)

Our words are powerful. Our children hear us and weigh what we say very carefully. Sometimes it may seem that what we're saying is innocent but can be very harmful to our growing babies.

In other notes - I'm having contractions tonight and thinking tonight or tomorrow may be The Day!


Vixbil said...

BRILLIANT post. Thanks Joy..hope today was the day!! xx

Happy Kid City said...

Great points here.

The Mommy said...

I often say, ""everyone is looking at us" too. Every single time I kick myself for it too. Maggie likes mismatched clothes, unfixed hair and wild socks. It's hard, but I just go with it more often than not.
Can't wait to hear The News!!

BrandiH said...

Great post! Some times I think we forget that we tend to "judge" our kids just as much as strangers.

Can't wait to hear your news!

Adrienne said...

I think it's awesome that you've discovered where you were headed and put the breaks on it! I think I'm too hard on my oldest sometimes. He's 13, and man can he drive me nutz! Some days are just hard to let him be him.

Veronica said...

So true, I caught myself doing this with my very opinionated 5 year old the other day! Thanks for the reminder that their independence is not a behavior flaw, but a blessing!

Kristen said...

Love this post!

And YAY for contractions!!!! I hope baby makes an appearance this week!!