Tuesday, December 17, 2013

SoMoms #BetterMe Sessions: How To Develop Your Child's Self-Esteem

How much do we contribute to our children's self-esteem?

According to life coach, Pia Nazareno of  The One Core, parents have a lot to do regarding their kids' own level of self-esteem.

A healthy self-esteem is the most important thing we can give to our children. Coach Pia mentioned that the foundations for a positive self-esteem starts early on in a person's life, and is dependent on the care and nurture that we give our children.

But first, what is self-esteem anyway? Self-esteem is the way a person feels about himself, and it can determine success, attitude and ambition. Simply because a person with high self-esteem can face challenges without feeling overwhelmed because parents have helped them develop resilience and persistence.

But even for parents like me whose kids are already grown (teens, grade-schoolers) it is still not too late put into effect these best-practice guidelines to continue to develop self-esteem in children.

The first step in building our children’s self-esteem is to connect with each child by learning their own specific needs. We must keep in mind that our kids are not an extension of ourselves, and so our idea of success (academic honors, sports trophies, extra-curricular awards) and our opinion of attractiveness (how thin or fat they should be, how to wear their hair, how to dress-up) should not be forced on them.

What is more important is to raise them in a caring and secure environment. Our home atmosphere should be one of stability, predictability, nurturing support, non-judgemental. In our home, we maximize our time and effort with each of our children by being intentional with how we spend our time with them. My husband and I take turns in spending time with each of our three kids. I usually spend time with the kids in doing structured activities (baking, crafting, cooking, drawing etc) while my husband spends time doing “free play” such as doing Bible devotions, night-time prayers, playing with the X-box, running outdoors, watching vidoes, etc.

Self-esteem comes from feeling loved and secure, and nothing says that more that INTENTIONAL TIME with the kids, DOING SOMETHING THAT THEY WANT TO DO. 

With a teen and two grade schoolers, you might think I am done with the disciplining part already. While I do not have to deal with the temper tantrums of a toddler, I still have a plateful on both hands as far as disciplining is concerned. Disciplining older kids means to teach, guide and empower them to behave constructively and appropriately. I find this is easier to navigate when we have agreed on house rules in advanced.  

Personally, we have raised our kids to equate discipline with obedience to parents. When they were much younger, and even upto now, we require complete obedience. Although they are allowed to appeal their cause, but once a decision has been made, we required them to comply with NO grumbling.

But since my kids are not perfect, and neither are we, my husband and I have experienced frustration and disappointments with each child ( and I am sure vice-versa!) It is best not to give feedback when emotions are high. I am known to take spiritual time-outs when I feel extremely frustrated with the kids. Click here to know more about how I keep damaging words from coming our of my mouth.

Sometimes, it is also a good idea to just step back and let the strong-willed child deal with the natural consequence of his disobedience. I remember just last week, my son decided he wouldn’t eat breakfast because he wanted to eat more ham than was allocated for him. Since his dad didn’t come down for breakfast yet, I didn’t let him have the extra ham on the serving plate, reserving it for his dad. It was uncharacteristic of him, but he decided he wouldn’t eat anything, even the ham slices that were already on his plate. I just thought of the bazillion of gifts that needed to be wrapped right after breakfast, and decided that I did not have time for a lengthy argument. So I let him be, but giving a stern warning that lunch will be served at 12:30pm, and no snacking is allowed in between (of course, I had to extend lunch as late as possible to get my point across). I had to make him agree that whining and complaining about how hungry he is will not be tolerated. He gave a long thought, and just when I thought he was ready for a truce, he agreed to my terms. Of course it did not take so long before his hunger set in (at 1030am), but I made sure to stick to the details of our agreement, so he knows:
1. how hunger feels like
2. I am not in the restaurant business, and do not serve meals on call.:)

Thank God that He has designed the natural order of the physical world to rein stubborn kids in.:)

Like what I mentioned here, it is essential that the husband and wife get to spend some time alone - away from the kids. The couple’s need for intimacy goes beyond the physicality of it all, but also involves the emotional side, such as having the time to share their thoughts and feelings to each other.

We also let our kids feel valuable by allowing them to actively contribute to the family by giving them opportunities to serve each other. I let them help me in the kitchen, if they feel like it. I also let the older one help the younger ones with their lessons. My youngest, most especially, feels like he is such a gentleman whenever he opens doors for his sisters, or carries stuff for me.

Most important of all, we, as parents, should set a good example. Our children’s self-esteem is actually dependent on our own self-esteem. It’s important to nurture our own self-esteem to serve as an exemplary role model. As parents, we should continue to learn new things, to challenge ourselves and value our own strengths. It’s important that we live our lives with the confidence that being unique and speical doesn’t mean feeling better than others - it is simply accepting ourselves for who we are! 
Much thanks to HP Philippines for sponsoring the event, and for hosting the scrapbooking activity which we did after the session.
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