I love how with my girlfriends we can be talking about parenting challenges and then somehow transition to a topic that I am unable to even mention here. 🙂
Such was the other day. A friend was sharing with me how they were working on new parenting strategies to boost their sons’ self worth. And it comes from rewording how you speak to your children and giving them power over their emotions. And I was able to transfer it to how I have been speaking to Arrine. Here’s how it works.
Arrine had a few absolutely fabulous mornings in a row, which makes getting to work on time and mornings so much enjoyable. So I was saying to her, “Arrine, you have been such a good girl these last few days and that makes mommy very proud of you. And Daddy too. See? We know you can always be such a good girl and that makes us very happy.”
But what I am doing there, is instilling in Arrine that she should be a good girl to make Mommy and Daddy happy, not to make herself happy. Which really is what self worth comes down to. Not needing that validation from an outside source.
And in having this conversation with my friend is when I had Breakthrough Two, which my friend noted for me just while I was having the realization as well. I had considered this before, but having this conversation about our kids made it full circle.
My mom was amazing at supporting her children and giving positive feedback and compliments and providing that self worth. But when she died, I lost that. And went searching for it from other sources. I am defending her parenting though, as I know she didn’t do this with the realization of the potential outcome, and she did instil in me enough self worth to not completely self destruct. 🙂 I just now know, first hand, how significant this is in a child’s development.
So now instead, when Arrine has done something worth praising, I say to her, “Amazing! How does that make you feel?” And each time she has exclaimed back to me, “Happy!!!” It’s very hard to not praise your children, but I have to remind myself why I am taking this approach, and have shared my thoughts on this with Nick too. Because I want Arrine to have her self worth defined 100% by herself. Nick and I will still support her and show her love and understanding and compassion, but the goal is for her to make decisions on her behaviour and actions for the positive way it will make HER feel. And not for someone else to validate her for it.
Sigh….this is so hard. But I love it.