Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: self-esteem

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    Let's Talk About the Royal Wedding

    More than 29 million Americans tuned in on May 19 to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and his American bride, Meghan Markle. People attended watch parties, complete with tea and scones, and took in every wedding detail. Viewers blew up social media with comments about everything from Camilla’s hat and the twin boys who carried Meghan’s train to the rendition of Stand by Me and the response to Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon - all of which were fairly harmless. 

    Then something else happened. People started sharing their opinions about Meghan’s dress (“I think I would have done one more fitting”), makeup (“She could have used a little help with her wedding day makeup”) and other wedding day choices. It’s interesting that now more than ever, our culture encourages young girls to be their best selves, and yet judgment prevails. So the directive is, “Be you, but prepare to be judged.” 

    Really? It sounds like young girls are getting mixed messages.

    The bishop’s message was about love - love God and love others as you would love yourself; yet it seems many are bent on cutting each other down. It’s almost like it’s become a favorite pastime or sport.

    Markle comes across as a very strong and confident woman, but that does not mean she doesn’t fight insecurities of her own. On one of the most meaningful days of her life that really was about what she and her husband-to-be wanted, people felt compelled to give their approval or disapproval. Hopefully, Markle doesn’t care what anybody else thought. What about young girls (or women, for that matter) whose self-confidence is much more fragile? Some brides would be devastated. It’s just plain hurtful.

    There must be a lesson for all of us in this. Do we really want girls to be themselves, unafraid to express their individuality? If the answer is yes, we may need to consider a few things. 

    Perhaps it would be helpful to teach girls how to have a thick skin and remind them that just because somebody says something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Also, they need to know who the truth-tellers are in their life. That way, they can discern if what is being said is accurate and deserves their attention or if it is something they need to let roll off their shoulders. 

    Most women know how it feels to be cut down, and it doesn’t feel good. Women are often experts at being hypercritical of themselves anyway, and when others pile on the judgment, it complicates life even more. Perhaps the most important lesson we can teach our girls is to be careful about judging others. Everybody has a story, and it is uniquely their own to write.

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    How to Help Kids Handle Rejection

    When Sara left home on the first day of sixth grade, she was super-excited about starting middle school. She was anything but excited when she got in the car at the the end of the day.

    Sara told her mom that her friends since kindergarten had decided to end their friendship. The leader of group had told them, “We don’t like her anymore,” a statement that launched Sara and her family into a year of chaos.

    Every impulse in Sara’s mom wanted to hunt down those girls, but she knew better than to do that. In conversations with other moms, she asked, “Why all the meanness?” Many of the women had not only experienced this with their children, they had gone through it themselves. In fact, they could still recall the interactions in painstaking detail.

    “Peer pressure and rejection hurts so much because it hits a youngster’s self-esteem, which is still wobbly at best during the preteen and early teen years,” says psychologist Dr. Susan Hickman from the Mental Fitness Institute in Chattanooga.

    “To make it worse, children at this age have not yet developed good filters to distinguish that this type of experience may be more about the other person than about them. They immediately translate the bad behavior of others into seeing themselves as unworthy. In reality, these two are not connected at all.”

    Whether young or old, everyone has the need to belong. So the feeling of rejection hits a person right in the gut.

    “If children can't get a good sense of belonging from a peer group at school, parents have to help them work a little harder to develop a sense of belonging elsewhere, such as through team sports, extracurricular hobbies, neighborhood peers or church groups,” Hickman says. “Once they establish a group with which they can identify, it's much easier to teach them how to dismiss their peers’ bad behavior and grasp the fact that it is really not about them.”

    Hickman believes teaching children mental-fitness skills is the key to navigating these tough situations and evaluating their own feelings. Learning how to challenge and confront false ideas can keep them steady for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, you can help your child with these steps:

    • Develop healthy self-esteem that is not affected by hurtful people's negative opinions. Help them solidify an appropriate sense of self-approval - regardless of others' bad behavior.

    • Learn healthy coping skills in the midst of negative circumstances. Self-talk is a key component to this. It’s important for them to positively cope with emotional upheaval instead of harming themselves or flocking to unsavory peers. Walk them through identifying healthy ways they can cope.

    • Keep perspective. Teach them to assess how much the situation has to do with themselves versus the bully. Get them to ask: Why might this person act this way? This teaches them to identify with the other person and separate themselves from the event. It also helps them look at their own behavior and make necessary changes.

    • Find alternative strategies and resources for fitting in. Trying a new hobby, joining a sports team or even finding another friend group may help. A busy mind is far less likely to think negative thoughts.

    So, how exactly do you teach them these crucial skills?

    “Think of it as you would any other skill, such as tying your shoes,” Hickman says. “Know what you want to teach them and show them the steps to reach their goal. Gently correct any missteps and model the next step for them. Then, have them practice the behavior until it comes naturally.”

    This will take some time and probably patience. But in the end, you will have taught them how to handle life situations and their own emotions with dignity.