There was a kindergarten teacher that wanted to help her class learn about self-esteem. She instructs the kids, “Ok class, I want everyone who thinks they are a dummy to stand up.” A little time goes by… no one stood. The teacher feels great that everyone feels confident about themselves until suddenly little Johnny stands up. The teacher says to the boy, “Do you really think you are a dummy?” Johnny replied, “No, I just didn’t want you to have to stand up there all by yourself!”
We’re continuing to talk about the importance of ensuring your child has a healthy self-esteem. We want to teach our kids how to deal with peers that tend to bring them down. There may be times in your child’s life that others make it a point to attack their self-esteem. Kids can be so cruel sometimes and it’s so unfair that they take their own hurts and insecurities out on others. We must be certain our children have high self-esteem so negative remarks, bullying or ignore games won’t affect their character and self-worth.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King
When a child is the recipient of degrading words or actions, it is like driving a stake into their heart. The more they hear, the deeper the stake and the harder it will be to remove it altogether. The worst scenario is when a teen takes their life because the stake was driven so deep that it took away all hope and they no longer saw the value of their life. We need to teach them at the youngest age possible how to correctly respond to hurtful words and actions.
Let’s talk about things to teach our kids when negative comments come screaming their way.
- Of course, if a parent has spent the child’s life building them up and teaching them to accept themselves, that is the best foundation. Please review the previous blogs for pointers on how to do this at home.
- Have heart-to-heart talks with your child and get them to open up to you on a regular basis. The danger is when someone degrades them and they hold it in to fester and it drags them down. Let them know that you will not judge them or make fun of how they feel so they will be comfortable coming to you with their broken hearts. These heartfelt talks will start with an interest in how their day was, etc. – not chewing them out for not cleaning their room. Get them used to talking to you about everything, then it will be easier for them to share their feelings when necessary. Communication is the major key in raising their self-esteem. You want them to come to you when they are hurting and know that they will not get a sermon, but compassion and love.
- Let them know that hurting people hurt people. Teach them to pray for the one that cuts them down or bullies them. Instead of getting feelings of hate, they need to learn how to have empathy and pray for them.
- Role play. Stage scenes and say something negative and teach them how to respond to that comment.
- Don’t allow your child to talk negatively about the person they are dealing with by using words like “they are stupid… they are ugly,” etc. Instead, talk about the comment made and tear that down. They need to separate the words from the person. This will keep them from hating and wanting to strike back.
- If your child has a handicap, inability, is smaller than his friends, not good at sports perhaps, has a scar on her face, can’t sing on tune or not in the upper percentile in grades, then keep stressing their strong points so these flaws are not foremost in their mind. You will be the buffer between heartless kids and their feelings.
- Take notice how they are reacting around other kids. If they are off to the side and not interacting with the others, it could be they have been hurt. A lot of times to get them talking, it is good to relate to them with a situation you dealt with as a kid. This shows that you are human too and everyone deals with hurtful words. Let them learn from your mistakes in how you handled it or what you did that was good at the time.
- Remember that your 10 year old does not think like you do, so don’t expect them to. Don’t take their hurt as a grain of salt or make fun of what they said. This would be the best way to keep them from sharing with you how they feel. Prayer will give you wisdom on how to respond to your kids – and believe me, it takes lots of wisdom in raising children.
- The 10-13 years of puberty is when everything will be worse in their eyes, they will feel strange in many ways and will be much more insecure. I will talk sometime on those years and how to survive them along with your kids, but for now… be understanding instead of judgmental. They need to feel secure while their emotions, body and mind change in this season of their life. During these years they can become more emotional, clumsy, deal with a little tummy, some acne and start that inching away from Mom and Dad. They need to feel security from you and not preached at every day. Keep telling yourself that “this too shall pass” and handle situations wisely and patiently.
- Sympathize with them when they have been made fun of. Put yourself in their shoes. Do not use words like “ignore them, they don’t know any better” or “I’ll just give their parents a piece of my mind.” This will only make matters worse. They need to deal with it, but in a proper way. It needs to be talked out and they need to know what to think, say and do in these situations. It is good to ask them how they feel and the best way to respond to the comments made to them.
We will be talking more about how to raise your child’s self-esteem since this is such a huge foundation for their future.
To Do: For the next couple of weeks, be extra observant with your children. Watch closely how they react and respond in front of others. Make it a point next time you are around other children to see just how your child acts. You may be missing something that could affect their lives later. There is a difference in shyness and low self-esteem and you need to know which one your child may be dealing with.
Family Time: It’s summertime…how about playing some miniature golf with your kids? Even toddlers love to play and it makes them feel so big. Some of the most memorable times as a teen was playing miniature golf with my parents. Make some great memories this summer for you and your kids to cherish!!
Time to Smile: One busy mom was getting her children ready for school when she realized it was trash day. The mom handed a bag of garbage to her 7 year old sleepy son and told him to toss it in the bin on the way to the bus. Glancing out the window moments later, she saw him wearily boarding the bus. He was carrying his backpack, his lunch and a big white bag of garbage.
Recommended Reading: Safe People by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. This book will help you as a parent know how to find good relationships. This valuable knowledge will assist you in teaching the same to your children.
Previous Recap: Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem (Part 3) Check out my previous blog on this important subject.