There are so many articles on self-love at the moment and it strikes me this is not a new skill to be learned, but more like a forgotten art.
Consider babies and children – their absolute fascination with their bodies, even the things their bodies produce, shows a lack of the disgust we adults often feel for ourselves.
We look in the mirror and listen to the outburst of our inner bully telling us we are too old, too fat, too thin, too whatever.
A child looks in the mirror and smiles and laughs in delight.
We were once those smiling children, delighted to see our own reflections.
How did we lose the art of self-love?
If you think about it, you should be your one true love. After all, if you can quiet the disturbing voice of your inner bully, you can count on yourself more than anyone.
Loyalty to yourself is almost guaranteed.
Yet the word out there is that people don’t know how to love themselves. When asked to list the things they love, rarely do they put themselves on the list and never at the top.
Most people feel guilty when they take time out for themselves, indulging in things that please them.
Have you ever known a two or three-year-old to feel guilty about taking time out to play?
Kids’ pride and excitement over an achievement – particularly a creative endeavour such as a drawing, shows none of the doubt and anxiety we adults so often express when we create.
HOW DID WE LOSE THE ART OF SELF LOVE?
So what happened to us?
And how can we help our kids keep the self-love alive?
Most of us start to lose our self-love when we go to school and we start to compare and be compared.
At the same time, more is expected of us and words have become our new barometers of worth, taking over from cuddles, being fed and feeling safe.
The adults around us, through their words and actions, are making us lose the art of loving ourselves.
Hey, we adults don’t mean to do this so I’m not throwing blame.
I look back on my mothering skills of three sons and see so many ways I could have made the road better for them – if only I’d known a bit more, and loved myself more.
We do the best we can. The list below is for those who want to do better and for us grandparents, lucky enough to get a second chance at being major influencers in the lives of children.
HOW TO HELP YOUR KIDS KEEP SELF LOVE ALIVE
- EXAMPLE – this is by far the most important factor. Kids watch what we do and they copy. If you are a people pleaser, chances are your kid will be one too. Model self-love – caring for your mind, spirit, and body, taking time out for yourself (guilt-free). In my post Balance Your Way to Happiness With These Tips I talk about the importance of setting priorities that include fun and pampering as an example for your kids.
- VALIDATION – as parents we so often find ourselves telling kids to be quiet, go and find something to do, leave us alone. It’s not practical, with life’s other commitments, to be in the moment with your child every minute, but setting aside special alone time when there are no interruptions (including the phone) is a way to let them know how important they are to you.
- RESPONSIBILITY – Giving kids responsibility (in keeping with their abilities and age) is showing that you trust them and that their contribution is valuable.
- LISTEN – Take the time to really listen to them. Kids don’t always communicate their cares and concerns clearly so being a good listener is a must if you want to know what’s important to them. Showing that you care about what’s important to them is a form of proof that they and their thoughts matter. Be sure and take them seriously when they are confiding in you.
- ACCEPTANCE – you won’t always agree but acceptance is just as good – actually better as it is telling the child you appreciate the differences and their unique point of view.
- PRAISE – never miss an opportunity to praise them for a job well done but don’t fall into the trap of overpraising. Kids are wise to this and it discredits the earned praise and puts pressure on them to achieve more.
- LIMITS – Putting limits and boundaries in place for their behaviour is a must but don’t imprison them with your own ideas about the limits of what they can achieve. Caruso, often considered the world’s greatest tenor, was told his voice sounded like a tin can. JK Rowling was told not to give up her day job and Rudyard Kipling was told he didn’t know how to use the English language. Your limitations are yours – don’t put them on your kids.
- GIVING – Most of us feel best about ourselves when we are helping others. This is a really important lesson for kids. Teach them how to help themselves by reaching out and helping others.
- GOOD TIMEOUTS – We think of timeouts as a punishment to calm kids when they are misbehaving, but we need to ensure they have good timeouts too. It’s true that busy hands are happy hands but over scheduling can mean no time for relaxation.
- SIBLINGS – Equality between siblings is an absolute must if you are to promote self-love. The comparisons and favouritism that goes on in some families can leave lifelong scars that make feeling worthy enough to be on your own love list almost impossible.
- LOVE LIST – Something I’ve been doing lately is incorporating things I’m grateful for me for in my gratitude diary as mentioned in 9 Ways to Become Excellent – and Let Go of Perfect. Why not share the activity with the kids? Make a game of it and see who can come up with the most reasons to love themselves.
- REMIND THEM OF THE RIPPLE – There comes a time when a parent’s adoration will not be enough to convince a child of their worth. That’s where the ripple effect comes in. Explain to them how important every drop of water is to make up the ocean. Explain how one little action can have a ripple effect that changes many lives. (I once wrote a fiction story for one of my son’s describing how his excellent manners had saved a woman’s life). Get your kids to understand the power of one. I used to love to tell my kids about the 100th monkey and hint that it could be them who become the critical number to make a vast change.
Wishing you love and a gleeful week, Tamuria.