Some weeks ago I found myself nagging like crazy about the things my son was doing wrong. I could hear myself critiquing his every move. Of course, I took those critiques as correcting my son's negative behaviors.
While correcting our children is pretty standard, I suddenly wondered if it did more harm than good when it came to building my 9-year old's self-esteem? In those nagging moments, I realized it's all a balancing act. Like me, many parents fall prey to this habit of correcting and critiquing "bad" behaviors and forgetting to praise and recognize good ones. This can have devastating affects on a child's mindset as they begin to believe our judgements of them and think to themselves: "I am bad, I am wrong, I am not enough."
With this in mind, I began saying daily affirmations with my son. It's been a week and a 1/2 and I already see a big difference in his mood. I also started "catching" all the things he did right and making a verbal note of them. Now, this might seem like such an obvious concept, but I am sure parents forget to be intentional in their delivery, time and time again, finding themselves chronically judging negative behaviors instead of praising good ones.
For me, this is one of those clear areas where I adjust course as a parent when I feel my children are acting out more often. By building this positive self-talk habit my children are building up healthy self-esteem.
At first, my son wasn't comfortable saying affirmations and that alone can be a sign of low self-esteem. He was almost embarrassed to praise himself. After a few days, the affirmations were his idea and suddenly the acting out became less and less. One particular affirmation I love:
"I am enough, I am important, and I matter."
This isn't to boost ego, but to remind them every voice has power and every person matters. At the same time, we always remind our children how imperfect we all are as humans and how OKAY that is. We remind them that love is unconditional and that the only opinion that matters is theirs.... so they should make it a GREAT one!