By Suzanne E. Harrill
When my third child was born I noticed some things that my firstborn would say that had a negative spin. This caught my attention because I sheepishly had to admit that I had said these things in less aware moments to her when she was in her formative years – birth to age three. I knew I needed to make some corrections in what I had passed on to my child. One thing I did was to explain, “I know I have said that to you in the past. I believe differently now. I am sorry I said that. Here is what I wish I said and this is what I now believe.” I was learning about affirmations and how they impacted me to override negative thinking. I could see the same need in my daughter as well.
Are you a high achieving person? Do you set goals and high standards for yourself? Then you probably do the same for your children. Maybe you see visions of your children being successful financially or having happy, balanced relationships when they are grown. When children are raised with encouragement to achieve and with high standards from parents, it can move them in a positive direction. That is unless, as parents or relatives our wishes, hopes and dreams for them are too high, not age appropriate, or not a match for the personality, abilities and needs of that individual child. Sometimes, we want for our children what we did not have ourselves growing up and therefore, confuse the boundaries of where we stop and they begin – we can push too far or in the wrong direction if we vicariously live through our children. Even with the best of intentions, we influence our children without even realizing it sometimes and pass on some negativity. This affects how our children perceive and feel about themselves, which affects their emotional well-being and self-esteem.
The major influence over a child’s emotional development, especially in the early years, is that of the parents or caretakers. We pass on who we are without even thinking by our words and actions. How can we correct some of our mistakes and make positive corrections in building our children’s self-esteem?
The best way to positively impact our children and make corrections is to study ourselves. The better we know and accept ourselves, the better we positively affect our children. We see our children as individuals separate from us and are better able to see the particular needs, interests, and aptitudes of each child and motivate them in that direction, which builds self-esteem.
When we identify false or limiting thoughts and words that we say to ourselves, we can change the voice inside our minds to a more positive, supportive, and encouraging voice. This will not only change us, but our families as well. It impacts grown children and your grandchildren too.
One way to learn about yourself is to listen to the things your children say to others or the conversations younger children have with their toys while involved in creative play. What you hear is a clue as to how they talk to themselves. The younger the child the more it is based on what you and other family members have said to them. It also gives you a clue about how you might be talking to yourself. The older the child the greater outside influences are – school, church, social groups or activities, sports, and peers and their families. Here you might listen to catch your older child or teen’s negative, limiting beliefs in order to suggest something better – no matter where they learned it. How would life be different for your child if when upset, frustrated, disappointed, or don’t get what they want, you heard them express positive messages? “I’ll try again and improve next time,” or “It’s okay I missed a couple words on my spelling test, the important thing is I know the correct spellings now and know I’ll remember them.”
Saying and writing affirmations – positive statements that re-pattern our thinking – move us in a healthy direction. They change our self-talk ,which positively impacts our self-esteem. Following this article are some affirmations for you, Self-Empowerment Affirmations: I Am My Self. Again, as you change how you think and speak to yourself, this in turn changes how you talk to your own children.
I will end with a list of affirmations for your children:
I am the star of my life.
I am in charge of my thoughts in my mind.
I am in charge of the things I say.
I always tell myself the truth about what I feel.
I am in charge of the things I do and how I do them.
I am unique, one of a kind.
I am of equal value to all other people.
I am good, even when my behavior is bad.
I like myself.
I love and respect myself.
I stop comparing myself to others.
I laugh at myself sometimes.
I feel kind and loving towards myself.
I forgive others who have hurt me.
My body is my friend so I take care of it with proper sleep, exercise, and food.
I think about why I do things, so I can solve my problems.
I listen to my intuition.
I say kind things to myself.
I like to be alone sometimes.
I have friends who like me, support me, and respect me.
I set goals and have fun achieving them.
I make a difference. My life counts.
These affirmations are found in, I Am a Star – A Children’s Self-Esteem Book. By Suzanne E. Harrill