Need some parenting advice for how to help your kids have high self-esteem? If you want them to truly feel self-worth you need to be a role model by learning how to love yourself first.
It is normal from one time or another, to look in the mirror and dislike our own reflection.
Being unhappy with ourselves isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, it takes a moment of self-disgust or even self-loathing to motivate us to make a positive change in our lives. But far too often, we find ourselves unpacking and living in the self-loathing. As hard as we try, our brains seem to play the same I’m-not-good-enough song on repeat in our heads.
A steady diet of not liking ourselves will eventually take its toll, on our health, our relationships, our careers, and our overall happiness and, perhaps most importantly, on our children. Why? Because low self-esteem impacts our choices and our motivation. If we don’t value our self, we are much less likely to pursue meaningful activities.
Why does self-love matter for a parent?
Because loving yourself means living with more peace. Loving yourself means you can take responsibility for your life and do not feel victimized. Loving yourself means you don’t have to hustle for other people’s approval. It means you can build deeper connections and experience greater joy. Loving yourself means you can model a healthy mind and lifestyle for your kids.
Low self-esteem in children can take many different forms including poor school performance, becoming sexually active at a young age, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse. By learning to love yourself, you can help your own children avoid or work through many of their own self-worth issues.
Low self-esteem may very well be rooted in a traumatic reality, but that does not mean the feelings you have about can’t be changed.
Wondering where to begin? Here are eight ways you can learn to love yourself, so you can teach your kids to have high self-esteem and self-worth.
1. Allow yourself to feel your feelings
We have the ability to feel a rainbow of feelings, but we often do anything we can to avoid feeling ‘negative’ feelings like anger, fear, loneliness, grief. In order to avoid feeling, we numb. We drink too much, we shop too much, we keep too busy. Being honest with your feelings is an important part of accepting who you are and learning to love yourself.
2. Act more and think less
Thinking isn’t enough to move you out of a dark place. You must take action. Give yourself easily-achievable commands and follow through. For instance, if you’d like to lose weight, instead of focusing on how much weight you need to lose, choose instead to replace one sugary snack with a fruit or vegetable. That’s it. Hold yourself accountable for just that one small action item. Small actions help you develop self-trust, the heart of self-love.
3. Break the circuit of negative self-talk
When the old familiar loop of bullying voices start playing in your head, be ready. Have more empowering thoughts and phrases on the ready. When you start hearing, ‘You’re not good enough’ replace it with, ‘I am enough’ or ‘I don’t have to be perfect.’ It will break the loop just long enough for you to decide a healthier action to take.
4. Look beyond circumstances
Everyone has bad moments, days and weeks. When circumstances look dismal when circumstances tell you things are falling apart, keep going. You won’t always feel like being kind to yourself. Somedays, it might feel like a lost cause, but small, remembering that each day and each moment stands on its own can help. You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to not give up on yourself.
5. Make yourself a priority
It is hard to love yourself if you are exhausted and resentful. If you are a pleaser, say no every once in a while. If you allow others to take advantage of you, create boundaries. If you fill your time serving everyone but yourself, you’ll not have the time to have fun or learn a new skill or replenish your tank. Making yourself a priority isn’t selfish. It is needed for health and happiness.
6. Look for proof
Make the intention to look for proof that you are loveable. If you seek out examples of why you are not loveable, that is exactly what you’ll find. If, instead, you choose to look for examples of all the good things about you, like ‘I like my smile’ or ‘I am really kind’, you will be shocked at all the examples that show up. Put your attention on your strengths.
7. Make time for friends
In the craziness of life and parenting, it is easy to put our friendships on hold, but we are hard-wired for connection. We release stress when connecting with other moms who don’t judge you. Being a part of a healthy group of women has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in shocking amounts. Go ahead. Laugh a little.
8. Dump perfectionism
Holding yourself to impossible standards is the fast pass ticket to anxiety. 24/7 of perfectionism will throw your mind, body, and soul into depletion and overstimulation which will make you sick in the long haul. Giving up perfectionism doesn’t mean you can’t be ambitious. Try, instead to focus on your most positive life, one that focuses on healthy connections, more joy, and calm.
Loving yourself isn’t woo-woo or selfish or for those with perfect childhoods. Loving yourself allows you to be happier, make more meaningful decisions for yourself and live a healthier, less stressed lifestyle. Isn’t this what we want for our children? Let them see you make mistakes. Let them see you laugh at yourself and move on. Give them permission to live happily and imperfectly by modeling self-love for them.