Teaching our children about themselves is something that we do every day. As parents we would like them to be able to see all their own strengths in the same way that we can, but it is not as simple as it sounds.
Children at three find it easy to believe that they are strong/clever/funny but as they get older this changes. Gradually, whilst they are in the early part of their school life they develop a good idea of who is ‘best’ in their class. Whether it be at reading or sport or something else, they begin to compare themselves to others.
Comparison has it’s uses in our lives. We can learn through making comparisons. But at times, it is a real shame to watch because it can easily stop our children from valuing their innate talents. They can wrongly believe that to be good at something they have to be the ‘best’ or ‘top of the class’. They don’t realise that there are many things that school just does not measure like kindness, empathy, determination and so on.
The relationship we have with our children is of primary importance in helping them to value themselves for who they are. Feeling valued and safe with the key adults in their life gives all children a great basis for growing up to know their strengths.
We can also help them by counteracting those difficult thoughts and feelings. We can have conversations with them about their talents and pick up on times when they are putting themselves down or comparing themselves to other kids.
There is a great little exercise we can do with our children every now and then to help them acknowledge their strengths and most importantly get them discussing and talking about them.
- Get large stickers and colourful pens.
- Set aside some time and ask your child to write in large colourful writing a talent/skill/strength they have on each one, until they have a series of written stickers.
- If they get stuck remind them it is not about comparing themselves to others but just acknowledging what they are good at or what they enjoy.
- If they mention a talent that you don’t think they have, don’t challenge it, get them to write it down. This is about their own perceptions of themselves.
- At the same time do a set of stickers for yourself. Write down your own talents and strengths so that your child can see that you too can acknowledge what is good about yourself. If you find this challenging then check out my post on Naming Your Strengths first.
- Then, for the best bit, put the stickers on, so that you both have your own talents and strengths stuck all over you.
This exercise can be done at any age where they can identify skills in themselves. I have done it before my son could write so I just jotted down his ideas for him.
Another benefit of this exercises is that it provokes great discussions. It can bring to the surface doubts or fears they have about themselves, which is a wonderful opportunity to discuss them openly rather than them remaining hidden.
It can be done as a family or one-on-one, so that any deeper issues can be discussed without interruptions. You know what would suit your child/children best.
Enjoy! It is fun and great for us too.
Do you have any ways to help your children acknowledge their strengths? Do your children struggle with knowing what is good about them? Do you? I would love to hear from you. I reply to every comment left here.
So what is next?
If you liked this article then you may also like:
- Your Feelings Count – The Self-Worth Challenge
- Own Your Strengths – The Self-Worth Challenge
- Milestones – Letting Go Of Our Children
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