Teaching Children to Have Self Esteem

While it is true that life can dish out some unfair circumstances, we do not need to “prepare” our children for this by treating them unjustly.

Children and teenagers are very aware and sensitive about fairness. It is emotionally and psychologically painful to them to be treated in ways that are unjust.

They need to be heard and validated. If we are to teach them to have integrity and to treat other people fairly, we need to do the same with them.

Children and teenagers do not learn by what we say, as much as they learn from what we do. Our actions are far more powerful that our words.

Children learn what they see and what they experience.

They should have a chance to tell their side of things and to talk about their feelings. We cannot teach them that our legal system offers a fair trial and then turn around and punish them without hearing them out.

Let us treat our children that they matter. Their integrity and self esteem matters.

This is the way they can learn to set boundaries with other people.

They can learn how to explain how they feel about things and why they feel that way.

If a situation arrises that the child will experience consequences then they should understand what is happening and why.  Those consequences should be equal to their behavior and not overblowing what actually happened.

Teachers that punish an entire class of students, for the bad behavior of 1 or 2 students, are not teaching the children that they are individuals with individual rights.

Sometimes there are unavoidable consequences for a child due to something their sibling or their classmate did, but consequences should not be inflicted upon innocent bystanders just to exercise control or to make a point.

Children need to grow up in a safe emotional and psychological environment.

Imagine if you were at work and forced to do overtime without pay, all because of a disruptive co-worker who slowed down the progress of the workday.

You would feel angry and mistreated. How would this affect your feelings about the supervisor that made you work extra hours with no pay?

How would this affect your overall morale?

There is an old saying that you may have seen on an office poster….

“Until morale improves…the beatings will continue..”

You cannot punish people into wanting to behave better. Children and teenagers are people and they need to be able to trust their environment.

This will allow them to blossom and learn. A benevolent and just environment will allow children.  To feel valued as individuals.

The ability to express one’s emotions and thoughts is a learned skill. To be able to present your side of a situation in a logical and understandable manner is a critical life skill.

Let us hear our children and teenagers out. Teach them respect of others and respect for themselves.

Let us celebrate the young minds and remember that those minds can tell when they are treated unjustly.

There is a psychological consequence for every negative experience and there are associations wired into the brain im regards to repeated experiences.

If we want the respect of our children, we need to treat them with compassion and empathy, as best as we can. There is no rule that says the adult cannot apologize if you make a mistake.

It shows the child that you respect them when you admit when you are wrong. It teaches them that everyone makes mistakes.

When you forgive your children for their mistakes they will learn to forgive you for yours. This will help to build their self esteem.

Self esteem is critical for survival. If we bring up children to be adults that cannot self-generate self esteem then they will be targets for predators and abusers.

Children and teenagers that learn to express their feelings and expain their side of things will be better equipped to deal with the people they meet as adults.

 

What are We Passing Down to the Next Generation?

When I was 6 years old, I got hurt on a see-saw. The person on the other side suddenly decided to get off. They jumped off in mid air, sending me crashing to the ground very hard.

The shock sent nerve pain streaming from my bottom all the way up my spine. I never got on a see-saw again. I did not let my kids get on them at the park. I simply fear them.

When I was 9 years old, I smashed my finger in a nutcracker. You know the ones… they look like a wooden doll that is a man with a white beard and a red jacket. Yeah, those things. I was playing with it because I thought it was a toy.

I ended up getting my finger smashed and it was extremely painful. To this day, I hate the sight of those things. I won’t let my kids even touch them in the store. I don’t even like regular nut crackers. I buy the nuts in the can that are ready to eat.

When I was 12 years old, I stepped on a tack. It got stuck in the heal of my foot. It was so stuck that it did not come out, even when I lifted my foot, jiggled it or yelled. (yeah, that one was a long shot…)
So I had to pry the stupid thing out of my poor foot by myself.

Ever since then I have not liked tacks. I don’t like bulletin boards that require tacks. When I am someplace that has a bulletin board, I immediately start looking on the floor for tacks. I have never allowed my kids to have bulletin boards in their rooms , even when they asked me for one.

These were physical pains. The memory of the pain is triggered by the offending objects. (ok that was a little dramatic… LOL).

By now you must be thinking “For God Sake that poor clutsy girl. It is amazing she survived to be an adult.

Yes, it probably is!

My father always says he did not think I would survive to be 2 years old because of all the furniture I ran my poor head into. He had to pad every corner, including but not limited to the handle on the kitchen fridge.

So, is this an article about my traumatic childhood. A memoir of how I was abused by inanimate objects? No, but let’s suffice to say it is still an ongoing problem for me. The battle with inanimate objects, that is.

No. This post is about the fears we carry and pass down to our children without really meaning to. Are my children deathly afraid of tacks, nutcrackers and see-saws? No, they actually think I am a little crazy about those things.

But if we carry fear with us about those things, imagine what fears we carry inside about mental and emotional harm that we incurred. It makes you wonder what fears we are passing down to our kids that we are not even aware of.

Not only that, what fears were passed onto us? How many generations can they go down?

Just a thought to ponder.

Namaste,
Annie

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