Children today are growing up in a technological-centric world, where online friends, followers, and likes take an unprecedented central position in their lives.
Along with this comes a challenge – how do we guard against the bombardment of social media images that tell us what a perfect body or a beautiful life look like?
How do we help our kids build a clear and stable sense of self, so they can go out into the world and build authentic connections with others?
Here are some strategies you can use to instill confidence and carve a strong identity in your children.
1. Accept them for who they are
The first thing we can do is to love and accept them for who they are. Our homes need to be a place of safety and belonging so that our children have a healthy base for growing their self-esteem.
Regardless of how different your child may be from you, it’s crucial to embrace them and recognise that they are uniquely and wonderfully made. We need to be keen learners of our children’s makeup, fears, tendencies, and innate personality traits. Only then can we appreciate them as individuals, and help them flourish where they are.
2. Affirm their strengths and character
After we’ve reached a deep understanding of how each of our kids is wired, we can affirm and call out their strengths and noteworthy behaviour.
Does your child have a kind heart? Are they usually the first to respond to a cry for help? Name these qualities one by one, and over time, it will help your child form a clearer idea of her talents and gifts. They will come to associate with some of these qualities more than others, thereby also embodying them more fully. When given in a specific and timely manner, affirmation helps our children see themselves more clearly and positively.
3. Be fully present when they want to connect
How many times have we let work or the ubiquitous mobile phone stand in the way of connecting and being present with our kids?
By intentionally setting these distractions aside, especially when your child wants to play or tell you about something, it communicates to them that they are worthy and valued. Allow them to express their feelings, ideas and thoughts with you; try not to shut them down even if they sound silly or ridiculous. This helps them to feel acknowledged and heard, which is crucial in the early years all the way up to teenhood.
4. Help them appreciate other people’s needs and feelings
As our preschoolers grow and mature into primary schoolers and pre-teens, they will have to grapple with friendships and peer influences.
Help them to grasp that people have different needs and preferences, and that it is only right to respect others – just as how we’d like to have our own needs heard and respected in return.
By imparting this knowledge, our children can feel safe to express their own individuality and gradually learn to be comfortable and confident in their own skin. They may also be less inclined to be swayed by peer pressure or cultural trends of the day.
Written by June Yong
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