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Positive Thinking & Happy Children: How to Build Their Self-Esteem




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“One of the most important things we adults can do for young children is to model the kind of person we would like them to be.”- Carol B. Hillman

It’s a well known fact that children learn what they live. Ask Dr. Phil or any number of child psychiatrists to corroborate this. Too many parents and guardians think children, especially young children, don’t know what’s going on around them at home. Anger and negativity are not beyond their understanding. The younger children may not understand all the words, but they do understand the underlying emotions. They can feel those emotions.

Negativity thrown from one adult to another is bad enough, but when that negativity is directed at children, it can be devastating. Young children want so much to please their parents; they want and need acceptance, love, and understanding.

Charles Thompson, in his book “What a Great Idea!” quotes a study showing that at home, parents used eighteen negative statements for every positive one. These are usually directed at their children and can add up to a shocking 432 negative statements in one day!

According to James L. Hymes, Jr., “Young children scare easily - a tough tone, a sharp reprimand, an exasperated glance, a peeved scowl will do it. Little signs of rejection - you don’t have to hit young children to hurt them - cut very deeply.”

The moment you begin to change your attitude from negative to positive, you will undoubtedly notice an immediate change in the children’s attitude as well. When children are around calm, happy, positive adults, they absolutely blossom. We’ve discussed the fact that you can influence others with your attitudes and be influenced as well. Well, that goes double for your child.

The Law of Attraction is seen here more than just about anywhere else. If you are feeling happy and positive about life, and you interact with your child, they pick up on that very quickly and will respond in kind. Like attracts like. And just as easily, that child can pick up on your bad mood, your unhappiness, and your negativity, and respond just as quickly.

A word of warning on this point. Children cannot be fooled with false attitudes. You can’t pretend to be positive and upbeat. Believe me they know the difference. If it’s not genuine, they’ll know; children hate to be lied to just as much as the rest of us do.

So, if you want your children to be positive in their outlook towards life, they have to see it from you; they have to live it every day. It has to be a part of their daily life. They need to breathe it in from all around them constantly. It must become a habit with you, to become a habit with them.

Equally as important is their sense of values. They must learn to value themselves and others for who they are, not for what they possess. It doesn’t matter how many video games you give your children to enjoy, but their behavior towards others and their feelings are the ones that count. They must learn to judge other people for what’s inside them - not on how they look, where they live, or what they own. This is something that requires a lifetime of training for them to learn the lessons.

In our world of status symbols, it’s not easy to teach these values. There’s a lot of competition out there in the media and in the schools. It’s up to you, as a parent, to instill good values in your children; and that starts with you as a role model. Do you constantly talk about money and buying things? Is possession of riches more about things than relationships? Teach them about being there for friends and relatives, rather than buying things for them. Encourage your children to find out what’s unique and special about their friends, rather than the size of the television that friend owns. It’s essential at an early age that they learn through your attitudes, words, and behavior that the important things in life can’t be bought.

This is where you begin to instill your beliefs in your children as a standard in their life. As they grow, they will develop their own belief system, based on what they’ve been taught and the world around them. Make sure what they learn from you is positive and rich in value. Teach them about giving and doing for others less fortunate than themselves. Learning gratitude from an early age is always a good lesson. Children can contribute in their own little ways.

Unfortunately, these lessons aren’t always taught in school. They must be taught in the home. As your children get older, you can even discuss positive thinking with them, showing them how to apply it in their own lives. You can even point out the difference between positive thinking and negative thinking, using television programs as examples.

Many parents think that a child’s life is all happiness and joy, that negativity and worries couldn’t possibly be a part of it when they’re so young. They couldn’t be more wrong. Children can become very anxious, even at an early age. Self-criticism comes next. While some children never seem to worry about things at all, others are filled with self-doubts.

They worry about school and doing well. They worry about having friends. Sometimes, they worry about being different than the other children. You must show them how to focus on good things - happy things - rather than focusing on what might happen if things go wrong.

Teach them about the Law of Attraction. Teach them to stop worrying about what might happen. Instead, teach them to think about what they would like to happen. Show them the importance of saying good things about themselves and others. Remember, you are their role model. Sometimes, you’re even their hero. Don’t let them down. And don’t tell them how they should behave, show them. That’s how children learn. If you’re constantly worried or putting yourself down, they will pick up the same habits. Children learn what they live.

What do you do if your son comes to you one morning and announces that he doesn’t want to go to school? “Why not?” you ask. “Because no one likes me; they might make fun of me,” he counters. This is where you can begin teaching him to imagine what he wants to happen. What if he made a new friend the very next day, someone who liked him a lot and wanted to play the same games as he did? What if he became your son’s very best friend? If he doesn’t go to school, he misses the opportunity of meeting that new friend. Point out the positive side, what good things can happen.

Find some children’s books about kids overcoming problems and finding the good things in life, and read them with your children. A couple of good choices would be “Oh the Place You’ll Go” by Dr Seuss, and Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine That Could.” Or make up your own stories about kids facing their fears and coming out as winners. You may have to do a lot of storytelling before they’re feeling braver, but it will happen. Relate some stories of your own courage and perseverance in school, to show your child it is possible to overcome fears and live happily. Teach them early on to consider the positive side to problems rather than the negative; that changing your attitude changes your life.

There does seem to be a growing awareness amongst teachers in the schools these days concerned with building children’s self-esteem. Rewarding the children for showing patience/kindness, for listening attentively, and for improving their communications skills, is being used in many schools, most especially pre-schools.

For the younger children, a program of star building works very well. The children earn stars for each accomplishment. Something tangible, that they can hold in their hands and show to their parents, works wonders for them. It’s constant reinforcement, constant praise, and a real confidence booster for children.

If you start the self-esteem boosting regimen early enough in their life, you can save yourself a lot of irritation later on. As children grow older, you have to deal more and more with adolescent emotions. By the time they hit their teen years, it’s important to have that self-esteem firmly in place, if you can.

By the time your children hit the mid teens, they’re seeing everything in black and white. If one of their friends inadvertently hurts their feelings, they could see that as meaning that no one likes them. Keep in mind that teen emotions are more intense and extreme than in early childhood. Your teens see themselves in a completely different way than your young children do.

Teens are undergoing cognitive and emotional development, and this can lead to them feeling depressed and moody. You’ll find they have trouble developing a general idea based on a specific idea or experience.

As children become teens, the biggest issue is developing their own personal independence. They are trying to master skills they need day to day and finding some control over their environment. They’re accepting the fact that they’re growing up and deciding if they feel safe in their little world.

They’re searching for their own identities. In the process, they can sometimes go to extremes, going deliberately against your wishes and even your beliefs. Because of the changes taking place in their bodies and their minds, it can produce some depression and moodiness. This should not be confused with clinical depression. Keep in mind that teens express their emotions very differently than younger children. It may even seem to be a little overly dramatic in some cases.

As they strive towards self-understanding, they may see themselves as completely helpless, without talents and skills, hopeless cases; but as your teens learn to increase their own competence and self-understanding, the histrionics will diminish.

The best ways to handle the dramatics is to remain calm and continue to boost your teens’ self-esteem. Show them that they do indeed have talents and skills; everyone does. At that age, they just haven’t had a chance to discover them yet, but they will. As they show an interest in one subject after another, simply encourage them in each one. You’ll never know when one will turn out to be the driving force in their life and become the dream for their future.










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