Pointers for Parents are regular inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to parents. I hope to build a bridge between parents and teachers as it pertains to the education of children and how we can work together for the betterment of our kids.
I have been hearing lately that kids are too confident and that as parents we have overdone the self-esteem thing to the point that our kids cannot handle even the small failures of life. That may be true to some degree for some kids, but I think that in actuality what we are seeing is false bravado that is covering deep rooted insecurity. It is a trend that happens when kids are expected to be good at EVERYTHING. All academic areas, all extracurricular activities, all community service, all faith based deeds, in every part of their lives kids are saddled with expectations to succeed. Add to that our culture’s desire to protect kids from pain of every kind and you have a recipe for disaster. A false sense of security is a cover for the feeling kids have that they are imposters. Students who struggle in school seem even more susceptible to these feelings of insecurity because they believe they will never be good enough. Underneath it all is a heart that wants to be accepted as they are, for who they are, no strings attached.
How can we as parents build up our children, without placing unrealistic expectations on them? How can we help them to know they are valuable, even if they don’t do everything well? I believe to build strong adults we have to pour truth into our kids.
- They have to know they are loved. Tell them. Not the I-love-how-you-do-something kind of love. The I-Love-You-for-you kind of love. Encourage them that your love is not based on what they do or do not do.
- They have to understand the reality, that they are not good at everything. AND THAT IS OKAY. None of us is good at everything, but that each of us is good at something. That something is our gift to the world and where we will thrive.
- They need to know that comparison to others brings death. That may sound extreme, but it is true. When we compare ourselves, we will never see our own potential. We will always look at our lack, and that leads to dark places of feeling like a failure. Teach them that being unique is a blessing.
- They need to celebrate their differences. Our world makes this difficult because it tells them that different is good, but then only rewards those that are the same. TV sends mixed messages that create dissonance in kids’ minds. Finding positive aspects in their differences is a key to believing in themselves.
- They need to be aware of their weaknesses. It’s true. Kids don’t seem to know that it is okay to have weaknesses. I love to tell them how bad I am at math. Their eyes get big when I admit to them that I cannot understand how math works. It is like they think that all grown-ups know everything. NOT TRUE. Once they understand that, they experience relief in admitting their struggles.
- They have to be their own advocate. Once they know they have weaknesses, and that it is okay to talk about them, they have to learn to deal with them. They have to build in some coping strategies and to let others know what works for them and what doesn’t. If they need quiet in order to work, they need to learn to ask for it. If they work best standing up, they need to respectfully ask for a standing desk. Parents cannot and should not follow them around forever, they need to learn to self-advocate. When they do it empowers them and that makes them feel like they have worth.
- They need to know that they are made in God’s image. Most kids don’t see themselves that way. Heck, most adults don’t see themselves that way either. But if we all knew, and really believed, that God created us, and that he doesn’t make mistakes, our confidence in who we are would not need to be shored up. If we saw every other person as a unique creation, we would stop comparing and begin receiving others for who they are and just as importantly receiving ourselves for who we are. If kids knew this truth…that their true selves are beautiful because they were created as individuals with gifts, talents and abilities to share with the world around them…we would have a less anxious, more confident world.