Comments spoken out loud about ourselves will have an impact on our children.
As adults we are aware that what we say to our children can influence how they see themselves. My husband and I learned that encouraging words build our children’s self esteem, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job at making our children feel special.
In our home we’ve made sure that we encouraged our children as we help them discover their gifts and talents. We have verbally praised their work and their efforts. We’ve told them how beautiful they are when they got dressed up, and we’ve told them that they could achieve almost anything they put their minds to.
And we mean every word of it. So why don’t they always believe us?
I think we, as parents, can sometimes be oblivious when it comes to our words.
It’s what we say out loud about ourselves.
How easy it is to put ourselves down and not be aware that those words are being heard by little ears. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stood before the mirror and been discouraged about my weight or how I looked that day and actually said, “I hate my thighs,” out loud.
Or when I’ve had a bad day and made some mistakes and verbally scolded myself. Saying things like, “I’m so stupid. I can’t believe I just did that,” or, “I’m so hopeless. I’ll never get it right.”
I know it has an impact because I watch how my daughter looks at herself in the mirror now. I hear the words she says and know that she is just repeating what she’s heard me say to myself. Doesn’t matter that I think she’s hard on herself because she won’t accept a true opinion from me since she’s heard me speak about myself in a hard unrealistic way. Its’ hard enough to keep our daughters from comparing themselves to what magazines say true beauty is when we have issues ourselves.
I also see how my children react to mistakes they’ve made and what they verbally say about it. I recognize those words because they are mine too. I want them to believe that they can tackle obstacles in life, but my words often make me sound defeated.
So, take the time to think about how hard you try to encourage your children, and take that effort and apply it to yourself as well.
You are teaching your children how to see themselves when they see and hear how you see yourself. So spend the day and compliment yourself out loud while they are still listening.
Dr. Mom is a Peninsula mother who works in San Bruno. She has two grown children, has years of parenting experience and spends her time working with families to develop healthy relationships.