“We accept the love we think we deserve”.
How do we learn to love or not to love ourselves?
It happens right here: in childhood, at the hands of parents, family and primary caregivers.
It’s important to love ourselves before we love someone else, because otherwise “love” can be used to manipulate, blackmail and control us.
Fill your child’s bucket so high that they don’t go looking for validation from the world.
How do we teach our children to love themselves?
1. Model it yourself. Be kind to yourself and show them how you accept and love yourself.
2. When you praise them, be specific. Always pick good points and admire the process. Children are very smart on picking lazy compliments like “good job”. They know you didn’t pay attention and won’t believe it.
3. When you correct and discipline, target the behaviour and not the personality. Don’t label them as “badtameez”, rude etc. Instead address the behaviour.
4. Assume and believe in the positivity in them. Let all your conversations sprout from that belief.
5. Don’t talk about your children negatively with others. Children are always listening. In fact, let them over hear you praising them to others. You will see them repeating the behaviour you praised.
6. All parents claim unconditional love, but do we practice it? Tell your children that you love them again and again. You’re always a safe warm place. Even as you correct them, you accept them. Your love and acceptance of them is not conditional on grades, accomplishments or their looks.
7. Stand up for your children. It’s your job as a parent to protect them from the world. Harassment is not just physical. Protect them from a relative who compares them to a sibling, or a nasty comment about their looks. Never repeat mean comments at home.
8. Every year on their birthday, go over how their birth brought joy to the family. Don’t tell them stories of how Dadi Amma was expecting a grandson or how Nani had already knitted pink sweaters for a girl. Children don’t understand family politics. All that matters to them is what you say. Tell them they are loved and valued!
Hope these tips help parents to teach their children to love themselves.
Do check out this list of parenting books that I love and highly recommend.