Part 2: What Self-Image Are You Painting For Your Child?
In part 1 of What Self-Image Are You Painting For Your Child, I discussed positive self-image, what is self-image all about, and the don’ts of self-image building for parents, and more. Here’s the continuation:
2. Never say: “What’s wrong with you? You don’t get it.”
This is one of the most toxic messages that we can give our children. Think of the curtain unfolding in the morning, and your child awakens to the big screen with this message. It’s debilitating, and yet… as many children hear this is various forms.
• Do Say: “Sweetheart, you get it. You really get it.”
When you notice success, or an understanding or even a positive response by your child, remember this powerful message: “You get it!” This is the message you want your child to awaken to each morning as the curtain pulls back.
3. Don’t compliment with exaggeration!
More and more, we see teens and adults on reality TV shows, who seem to think they can sing, when they can’t (sing well). The self-image developed with the help of parents, who simply told them they were amazing singers…even when they were not. To say, “You are an amazing child” is quite different than saying “Yes, you are an amazing singer.”
• Do give reality-based compliments (for skills).
Of course, in the early years, encourage all. And never criticize the effort. But stay away from the exaggerated compliments that have no basis in reality.
When it comes to skills, make certain you compliment their effort and hard work. Be clear about progress, and smile always. However, do not give your child lots of hyperbole, when it is not true.
Be a reflection of reality while the self-image is unfolding, and life will be gentler for your child. Life will not later give such harsh feedback or have unrealistic expectations.
• Do give striking compliments for character and effort.
This is the one area we often need to exploit. We need to compliment kindness, thoughtfulness, responsibility and effort more. Be vigilant for noticing positive moments that reflect courage, strength and character. Smile. Notice these moments and all you can to these moments. This is the key to a self-image that will pull your child into an outstanding future!
4. Don’t use bedtime to review fears, worries and bad or tough times.
Before going to sleep, many parents fall into the habit of talking with kids about their day. This can be good. However, often we use this sacred time, before drifting off to sleep, to highlight the worst parts of the day. We revisit where things went bad, or to review complaints or unhappiness.
This is a sure-fire way to nurture your child’s self-image into that of seeing the negative, and being focused on worry and fear. Going into sleep, after reviewing the bad parts of their day, only promotes dream states that are filled with the same worry, fears, and negativity.
Contrary to popular thought, just because your child may want to use the time this way…it does not mean you should support it.
• Do focus on the good, the positive and count the blessings of the day
It becomes critical to build and nurture a focus on where they went well. Make it the habit of shaping a self-image where your child sees the positive side of most of life. The more you and your child focus in this way, the more they will shape an internal self-image that seeks optimism and gratitude every day. There is no better way to nurture their positive self-image.
And remember, at the core of these lessons, is the need to stop using so many words to manage behavior. In order to reduce these repeated words, you need the right system. My Essential Parenting program is one system, which will teach you how to manage behavior with much greater ease while building a strong and resilient self-image.