Whether you are a parent, guardian, relative, or teacher, would you like to help children avoid the biggest mistakes they make which can hurt their self-esteem, physical and mental health, success in school, sports, etc.? The truth is that you can make a difference in their lives. Children are depending on adults to teach and guide them.
As a former school teacher and Marriage, Family Therapist for 27 years, I have had the opportunity to work with many children of all ages, and I noticed similar problems. The following insights and solutions can assist you to help boys and girls to increase their self-esteem and success in every area of their lives. The children are also more likely to be physically and mentally healthier, because they will feel good about who they are and what they are doing.
1. Mistake: I am responsible for how people feel and what happens to them.
Truth: We are only responsible for our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Action: Tell children that they are not responsible for other people’s emotional pain, arguments, illnesses, accidents, and even deaths. The reinforcement of this truth can prevent them from feeling they are bad and sabotaging their success.
2. Mistake: To be a female or male, a woman or a man, I have to be like my mother, father or guardian.
Truth: Children are entitled to be their unique selves.
Action: Encourage children to be who they uniquely are, and tell them that they are okay.
3. Mistake: My parents, relatives, and teachers know everything, and I am wrong if I disagree.
Truth: Parents, relatives, and teachers have learned a lot, and they are human and can make mistakes, or be misinformed.
Action: Encourage children to voice their opinions, and you will be amazed how wise they can be. Reinforce the value of what they think and feel, and they will feel good about themselves.
4. Mistake: I have to hide myself, please others, and focus on being who adults want me to be in order to be loved and accepted.
Truth: In order to be happy and successful, it is important for everyone to be their unique selves, and feel loved and accepted.
Action: Reassure the children that you love them, and you want them to be who they are, and to follow their dreams.
5. Mistake: I feel better when I take my frustrations and anger out on my younger siblings, and I bully other children.
Truth: The negative behavior feels good on some level. They feel powerful when they express their anger, instead of feeling powerless because of their fears. However, their aggressive behavior also causes children to be reprimanded even more and/or feel guilty because they know better. Guilt implies that they are bad, not okay, and hurts their self-esteem.
Action: Help children understand that their anger is covering up their underlying emotions of fear, hurt, or powerlessness. Teach children by your words and actions how to express their frustrations and anger in constructive ways. It is also helpful to find out what fears or hurts are causing their negative behavior and assist them to resolve the issues.
6. Mistake: I have to conform to peer-pressure to be accepted and okay.
Truth: When you do things that are against who you are, you give up a part of yourself and it does not feel good. On the contrary, it feels good to be true to yourself.
Action: Help children feel good about themselves with compliments, hugs, appreciation, acknowledgement, and verbally expressing your love. When they like and love themselves, they are less apt to succumb to peer-pressure. 7. Mistake: I believe what others say without checking it out with myself.
Truth: It is important to trust your own feelings and thoughts and evaluate if what you hear is true for you.
Action: Support your children to think for themselves and to trust their feelings, which are just as valid as anyone else’s.
8. Mistake: I don’t trust or follow my intuition.
Truth: Everyone is intuitive, and it is the all wise part of us. It can protect and guide us.
Action: Help children open up to their intuition and encourage them to follow it.
9. Mistake: I compare myself to others.
Truth: We all have our unique strengths, talents, and gifts.
Action: Discourage children from comparing themselves to others. Encourage them to always do their best and tell them that they are okay just the way they are. That will help them feel better and focus on who they are.
I believe that adults optimally serve children when they prepare them for life. That means modeling and teaching them how to be honest, deal with money, communicate constructively, create healthy relationships, take care of their bodies, problem-solve with win-win solutions, play safely, learn from their mistakes, and love themselves. Boys and girls are depending on adults to nurture them physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and when they are ready, encourage them to fly from their nests.