As a clinician, I have spoken with countless parents who have indicated an inability to unconditionally love and accept themselves, but declare an unconditional love and acceptance of their children. My argument is this: if parents are incapable of unconditionally approving, loving, and accepting themselves, then the children will most likely adhere to parent’s negative view of themselves, rather than adhering to the positive strokes that have been granted. Yet, if children receive positives strokes from negative parents, this will help insulate the children from the profound effect of the parents’ negative viewpoints of themselves, but will not completely shelter them from this negative bondage that the parents carry within their own being.
If parents see themselves in a negative light, the children learn that it is okay to defame their own being, while positively stroking the life of another. “For what I say unto you, is not what I accept for myself.” Furthermore, if I have little love for myself, then how am I assured that I am unconditionally loving, accepting, and approving of another? For if we place conditions upon our own life, then we can be assured that we have placed conditions upon the lives of others.
Children need to be reassured, secured, and unconditionally influenced. All children need to know that no matter how well they have performed, or how poorly they have performed, that their worth is still intact.
“As a parent, you have the greatest influence in shaping your children’s sense of self-worth; you are their first and most important teacher.” (CMHA, 2011, Online) Parental influence can be an insulator or barrier for children’s ability to thrive. As parents, we influence our children not only through our own modeling, but through the manner with which we interact with our children. When children receive positive verbal and nonverbal communication, their ability to feel safe, secure, accepted, approved, and unconditionally loved is instilled.
DEVELOPING A CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM
Children’s self-esteem is developed through, maintained by, and influenced through their parents’ own perceptions of self. Developing a secure sense of self in your children is influenced by your direct and indirect interactions with your children. Furthermore, your own personal views of self, act as an unwritten guide for your children on how they might eventually view their own being. As parents, offering positive feedback and communication reinforces the positive self. Focusing on the negative or egregious perspectives of your children’s behaviors will reinforce that they are bad and unworthy. Therefore, it is prudent that you focus your communication and interactions on the children’s positive behaviors, attitudes, and percepts.
Developing a children’s self-esteem begins at the earliest stages of life. Therefore, it is important that the children receive positive praise, interaction, and communication during this early stage.
What are some of the key elements in developing, maintaining, and influencing a positive sense of self? Children should receive or observe:
* A Positive Role Model and Modeling Positivity
* Identifying Inappropriate Beliefs, Perceptions, and Worldviews
* Providing Encouraging Words and Positive Feedback
* Engaging in Positive Conversations and Communication
* Maintaining a Safe, Caring and Nurturing Environment
* Establishing Boundaries as as Safeguard
* Treating Children Fairly and Respectfully
* Safeguarding Against At-Risk Behaviors
* Setting Obtainable Goals, Ambitions, and Desires
* Making Time for Your Children
* Insisting on Communicating with Your Children
* Reinforcing Positive Behaviors, Attitudes, and Perceptions
* Offering an Unconditional State of Love, Acceptance, and Approval
* Compliment Your Children
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA