Today, in part 7 of the self-esteem mini-course, I would like to talk about doubts, the killers of self-esteem, and the role parents can play in filling up doubt-holes with confidence.
My hope is that if you want your kids to have high self-esteem, you will shift your focus from your kids to yourself. Because your attitude as a parent is the key to raising happy, confident kids with high self-esteem.
Parents who drink are more likely to raise kids who grow up to be drinkers. Parents who gamble are more likely to raise kids who grow up to gamble themselves. Therefore, parents with doubts and low self-esteem are more likely to raise kids with low self-esteem.
I believe this cycle needs to end.
The best way to end it is to look at the positive side: Parents with high self-esteem are more likely to raise kids with high self-esteem. Isn’t this good news?
Doubts are Holes in Your Self-Esteem
Whenever I suggest this to parents, I get two types of reactions – the half-full and the half-empty.
Some parents look at the empty half of the glass and feel despair when they realize that what they feel and think has so much influence on their kids.
Parents with high self-esteem look at the full half of the glass and are happy to realize that what they feel and think has so much influence on their kids.
The easiest way to increase your kids’ self esteem is to send them to have dinner at friends’ house or encourage them to sleep over with their friends. If you think I am joking, keep reading.
Most parents (who were once children) copy their parents’ behaviors. It is funny that sometimes I hear myself saying sentences I have heard from my parents (even the ones I did not like). Well, it is not funny, it is sad.
In my parenting workshops, most people talk about their home culture and are very surprised they keep so many of the customs from home, though they did not like them as kids.
I believe that understanding ourselves as children can help us support our kids better on their quest for high self-esteem.
Children are mirrors of their parents. As you may remember from Beliefs and Where They Come From, home is one of the major sources of beliefs and most of the strongest beliefs are formed during childhood.
When you were a kid, you could not choose to reject any of the customs in your home (in fact, most people cannot do this even when they are all grown up).
Every kid grows up in a house and believes that this is what is called “life”. Children with siblings think that all the kids have them. If their family eats dinner in front of the TV, they think every family does. If they get desert after dinner or go to sleep at 10pm, that is what they think everybody does.
Do you remember the first doubts you had about the way your parents parented you? For most people, the first time they realize their house is not like every other house is when they go to sleep over with friends or other family members.
If you go to sleep over at the age of 4, the doubts will start at the age of 4. If you go at the age of 16, they will start at the age of 16, but this will happen eventually. This is because you go deeply into people’s customs and behaviors when you stay for the night (or even when you stay for dinner).
The first sleep over creates many doubts, because you realize not everyone does the same things as you and suddenly you have questions about the differences. I can tell you that because we allow early sleep over (age 3 and no diapers is good enough for us) we know that our kids asked many questions about the differences when they were very young. Let’s go over some of the simplest doubts.
- Why do we brush our teeth before breakfast? Jade brushes after breakfast.
- I do not want to eat salad. At Liam’s house, they do not have to eat salad.
- I want to watch <some movie>. Alex’s mom lets her watch it.
- It’s not fair! Other kids get to go to the fair and buy bags of sweets and we don’t.
At one stage, our daughter came home and said she had decided to be a vegetarian. She was about 7 years old, and went to school in Thailand with many vegetarian kids. She visited their homes and afterward had many doubts about our choice to eat meat.
For many parents I know, the comparison statements above would “kill” some of their confidence and raise doubts in them regarding their parenting. In fact, these are good opportunities to test their beliefs and customs.
How many times in your life have you had a chance to sit, write down all your parents’ customs and beliefs and ask yourself if you want to adopt them or not?
When your kids come home after spending time at another home, you should thank them for giving you the opportunity to do it.
If you have a good, solid, confident answer, it will ease the doubt and kids are not likely to ask that question anymore. If your answers are angry and out of control, it will increase their doubts and lower their self-esteem.
Therefore, if you want to build your kids’ self-esteem, you need to sit down and answer the questions before your kids ask them.
Get rid of your doubts
Here is a list of questions my kids have asked whenever they have gone to someone else’s house. I am sure there are hundreds more. Try to answer them. This will help you establish a good parenting philosophy. It will also give your kids good answers when they have doubts about your parenting style.
- Why can’t I have a McDonald’s party?
- My friends can watch TV as much as they like. Why can’t I?
- Sandy can go to sleep whenever she wants…
- Jacob has a pair of brand name basketball shoes…
- Why can’t we be like all the kids going to grandma’s for dinner on holidays (in our case, one of them lives on the other side of the world and the other is out of this world already)?
- In Sally’s house, they have pizza every Tuesday.
- Steve’s mom takes him to a friend’s house whenever he asks her (although Steve is an only child).
- In Jay’s house, they have dessert every evening (as opposed to fruit).
- Tommy’s parents allow him to watch Lord of the Rings (at the age of 7).
- Carl’s parents allow the kids to drink alcohol with them…
- Tayla’s dad brings her a gift whenever he comes back from work (he works overseas and comes home every two weeks for a weekend).
- Daniel’s dad bought him a BMW for his 18th birthday (ouch!)
To help you come up with good answers to erase the doubts in your kids’ life and increase their self-esteem, go over the 100 questions you should ask yourself as a parent and answer each and every one of them.
You will be surprised that when you have good, confident answers, your kids will have them too. It will be as simple as looking in the mirror.
See you next time,
This post is part of the series Self Esteem Mini-Course:
- What Is Self Esteem?
- How School Promotes Low Self Esteem
- Beliefs and Where They Come From
- Social Identity
- Service Your Self-Esteem
- Your Self-Esteem Checklist
- Get Rid of Your Doubts
- Assertiveness and Self Esteem
- How to Be Assertive
- Self Esteem Mini-Course (10): Beliefs of Assertive People
- Self Esteem Mini-Course (11): Ronit Baras’ Success Experience Theory
- Self Esteem Mini-Course (12): Ms Self Esteem has an Identity Crisis
- Self Esteem Mini-Course (13): Conflict Resolution
- Self Esteem Mini-Course (14): Watch Your language or Lose Your Kids’ Trust
- Self Esteem Mini-Course (15): War between Two Minds
- Self Esteem Mini-Course (16): What if
- Self Esteem Mini-Course (17): What do I Think?
- Self Esteem Mini-Course (18): What?
- Self Esteem Mini Course (19): Damaging Kids’ Self Esteem
- Self Esteem Mini Course (20): Boosting Kids’ Self Esteem