Updated: Sep 19, 2021
Self-love is something all human beings struggle with regardless of age or ability. But when children perceive themselves as flawed either from a label they have been given, or a negative comment from a bystander, or an expectation they cannot realistically meet, Self-love can be hard. Where do you start? One way is to model and show self-compassion. Treating yourself and your child kindly by increasing the amount of positive self-talk you do and show. When children learn soothing thoughts from you, oxytocin and opiates are released, which makes them feel good and they learn to do it themselves.
A couple of activities might be helpful: Activity 1: Have your child list some positive traits he/she has such as honesty, kindness, patience, care, intelligence. Add to the list of characteristics you believe it possesses. Then take several sheets of blank paper and write one trait on top of each. Leave the rest of the page blank for writing down examples of how this trait is displayed. Your child might be able to identify and voice a positive thought, like, “Mom told me I was kind when I shared my ball with my brother.” If your child struggles with this, prompt him/her by pointing out how you see these positive attributes displayed. Tell your child what you observe regarding each trait and write it down: “You were patient when you waited for your turn at the slide.” Repeat this with other family members and friends so your child can see his/her positive traits from as many perspectives as possible. A sibling might write, “You were kind when you told me I could play with you.” As each page grows with examples of how your child demonstrates each quality, a visual picture will begin to emerge that is full of positive, loving energy. Post these sheets in your child’s room and review one each morning before it starts the day and another at night before going to bed. This will program your child’s brain with thoughts that trigger self-love and help create more of the same. Activity 2: Some children are visual and think in pictures. Look for pictures that signify the affirmation you want it to absorb and cut them out. Have your child look for pictures of what is important to him/her and what it is good at, or wants to be good at. You can then create a visual poster or drawing and actions with your child using drawing, pictures and action steps to get there. Doing this positive activity together will not only increase your connection with your child, but it will also give you insight into its likes and dislikes, passions, and interests.
Parenting Magazine Issue 72