Yesterday as I was walking along the street in the mall area, I was walking near a Mother and her daughter aged about 4. They were holding hands, and the Mum looked at the little girl and said: “Every day when I spend time with you, my life gets better and better.” The daughter beamed a big smile to her Mum.
I said to the mother: “What a beautiful thing you just said to her – it’s such a positive message.’ And the Mum beamed back to me.
There are two things which are truly wonderful about the happening…..
The first is that the mother clearly cares deeply about her daughter and is taking steps to ensure that the daughter knows she is loved and valued, on a regularly basis. She told her daughter that this continues to happen each and every day – giving her daughter the message that their love and connection will continue, and that it is an important thing.
She also gave the little one the message her very presence improved her mother’s life – just by being there.
Imagine how valued she felt.
Imagine how special she felt.
Imagine how good she probably felt about herself!
Children’s sense of belonging and of being special is so important to their on-going development and attitude to life.
If we believe we are valued, we behave in certain ways.
If we believe we are not valued, we behave in quite different ways.
Obviously as adults we can choose to see our value and skills even if it’s not acknowledged by others, but little ones need our help to develop their own positive self-esteem and positive self-worth. This Mum has planted many positive seeds there to help her daughters growing sense of self.
There are many ways to foster this in children. One way is obviously by the words you use, such as this mother did. You can also say things like:
- You are wonderful.
- I know you can do this!
- I like the way you are trying to make those blocks join together.
- I love the way you read to your baby brother.
- You remembered to put hang your towel up – thank you.
These statements all reinforce the great things about the child. Another way is by spending time playing with your little one, undistracted by the phone or TV – playing with blocks, toy cars, dolls or in the garden. This tells them that they are ‘worth’ playing with, because you chose to do it.
Touch is another way to help boost your child’s self- esteem… with High-5’s, pat on the back or a big hug.
When parents nurture their children in this way it helps to build positive identity. I don’t mean that you need to praise every tiny thing they do, but regular doses of appreciation is a healthy thing for them to receive.
We want children to believe in themselves, and on top of the above suggestions and benefits, another component is to help build resilience in children – ie the capacity to cope when things go wrong. When children feel good about themselves and have been encouraged to attempt things, then they are more likely to have a go at problem solving when a situation does arise.
The second thing which is wonderful about the 4 year old and her Mum was that when Mum said something positive, the daughter smiled. When I overheard this positive situation I commented positively and with a smile. Then, the mother smiled back at me. This is the great thing about smiles…. They can be easily passed on and on and on!
- Make the time today to tell your child how special they are to you,
- Comment to others when you see or hear something great, and
- Smile wherever possible – so easy to do, and so easy to make someone else feel great!