During the summer when we spend more time with our kids we can experience more of their various emotions. When we are on holidays the kids are with us all day and we get a better sense of the rhythm of their activity, feelings and sense of self. And we truly want them to feel good about themselves. How can we make this happen for them? Is positive thinking the answer? Read the article and let me know what you think.
Then, if you are on the Lower Mainland take a look at the end of this newsletter and keep the date for the workshop on child self-esteem.
Positive Thinking Not a Route to Positive Self-esteem
If we believe it will happen it will. We just have to have faith in ourselves. It’s the power of attraction; our good thoughts will attract wealth. Wealth of happiness, good relationships, financial and personal success are all possible with the right attitude. And, oh yes, you do have to do some work to achieve your goals. But somehow, when I hear about these attitudes, the work involved is almost an afterthought.
In recent years we called it The Secret, previously it was called the Power of Positive Thinking and when I was young, we had a chirpy little girl called Pollyanna. Pollyanna was a novel written in 1913 and became a Walt Disney film released in 1960 that also ran on TV.
So what is the result if we follow this belief when raising our children? I would never say that a positive and upbeat attitude is a bad thing.Unless it’s a lie. There are times when a negative attitude is a fine response to a situation. When I am driving home and cross the intersection on a green light but a car coming the other way runs his red light and broadsides my car, all the positive thinking in the world isn’t likely to work or be appropriate. It’s okay to be furious. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to cry. Sure, I need to get past that and deal with the reality but it happened, it sucks and it has thrown a real wrench into my day and likely my week. Even longer if I’m injured.
With our children we already have difficulty seeing them grappling with what we would define as negative feelings. We want their lives to be happy, serene, successful and positive.
All too often when our children express sadness, anxiety or worry we try to appease them. “It’s okay dear,” or “You’re too young to worry, let me do the worrying for you,” or “Don’t be silly, everything is just fine.”
And this backfires. We do it to reassure and to comfort our children. But they get the message that they can’t trust their own feelings. They think they feel anxious about something. So they tell us, and we dismiss the feeling. Now they’re not only feeling anxious but also stupid because we, their parents who know everything, (are you aware that kids think parents know everything?), tell them that the feeling is just not possible for a person so young.
So what do children learn from this? Besides learning not to trust their own feelings, they learn to ignore, dismiss and bury any ‘unacceptable’ feelings.
“How was school today?” we ask. “Just great,” they answer. Meanwhile they’re thinking, “School was tough, I’m worried about that test and I’m anxious about the fight I had with my friend.” But they know that if the express their concerns, their parents will just reassure them and tell them that if they just have the right attitude, make a plan and follow through life will be just fine. So they don’t bother sharing a negative feeling.
Children build a positive sense of themselves when we acknowledge and respect all aspects of their being. We permit them to talk about all their feelings. We listen when they vent about their day. Often we don’t have to do anything. They just need to vent, they know that sometimes there is just nothing they can do to change a situation but if they can vent, they can cope.
When you talk to people who are committed to the idea of being positive they will admit that they sometimes have a bad day. But they quickly get past that, put on a happy face, find the positive and move forward.
Problem is, they’re moving forward in a phony way. And if they are parents their children can see that. Children can sense when something is wrong and if we don’t even admit to ourselves that things have gone bump, how can we ever present an honest and authentic face to our children.
Let’s appreciate our children, and for that matter ourselves, in an honest way. Let’s acknowledge the good and bad, the negative and positive. Let’s embrace the occasional bad time and give ourselves the luxury of feeling badly.
If we do that, we will be healthier because we won’t be artificially submerging bad feelings. We will have control because we can decide how badly we want to feel, for how long and how we can best move forward to the next thing.
We will model for our children a full range of feelings. And they will learn to appreciate themselves for who they are in any given moment.
So, be positive as much as possible. Believe in your goals and work to achieve them. Teach your kids to do the same.
A New E-Booklet
Why is it that Jeremy and Olivia who are siblings are so different? Every child is unique and usually shows their particular temperament right from birth. What’s a parent to do?
Watch for a new e-booklet due out in July called Vive la Difference; Raising Children with Different Temperaments.
You’ll find out in this newsletter the minute it is available.
Save the Date
For those of you in the Lower Mainland, you will have the opportunity to attend a workshop in Burnaby on September 11, 2013.
Details are on the flyer below. It will start at 6:30 pm and the topic is “I Like Me!”
Child self-esteem is a topic of growing importance in our society as we see our young people struggling to develop a positive self-image. Children and adults who feel good about themselves are happier and more successful.In this workshop you will learn:
• Why simply loving our kids us not enough
• Why some common parenting practices are backfiring on us
• Practical ways you can help your children to develop high self-esteem
The presentation deals with the difficult and abstract concept of self-esteem and will offer a blueprint for success. It is appropriate for parents of children of all ages.