Most of you probably know that the best way to remember something is through repetition. The more you repeat something, whether it is through practice problems with homework, practicing your skills in a sport, singing the lyrics of a song over and over every time it plays on the radio or hearing things others say – the more likely you are never to forget it.
In regard to that last one: Think about the things people have said to you over and over throughout your life. Things that whether good or bad, you never forgot and to this day, they affect your beliefs and behavior.
They may have been things like:
1. You’re a great singer
2. You’re great at math
3. You’re good at basketball
4. You’re talented
5. You have a way with words
6. You talk too much
7. You’re stupid
8. You’re ugly
9. Nobody likes you
10. You’re too skinny
11. You’re too fat
12. You can’t dance
13. You’re not as good as your brother/sister
Most of us have heard one or two of the above from other kids or perhaps family members or friends or random others throughout our lives for various reasons. The more times you heard these things (not limited to those things on the list above) the more ingrained they became and affected your self esteem.
Armed with this knowledge, that the things people in our lives say, whether good or bad, are remembered deep in our subconscious and have the ability to affect us – I decided to do something about it. I decided that the things I wanted my kids to hear repeated most often would be positive. If what we hear as kids helps shape our self image, then I could do something about my own kids’ self images.
For the last few years I have made it a point to not only say positive things to my kids but to say positive things about them to others – particularly when I know they are listening to my conversations. I don’t make unreasonable statements, I don’t exaggerate and I don’t make up things about them that aren’t true.
I make an effort to point out the differences in each child because praising them as individuals is just as important as the praise itself. I want them to be proud of what makes them unique.
- My third grader reads at a fifth grade level. She loves to perform, is a very charismatic actress and according to her piano and singing coach, is pitch perfect. This is a phenomenon known as absolute pitch. She also writes her own books and plays.
- My fifth grader has great hair, it’s thick and naturally wavy and looks beautiful without any styling at all – lucky her. She has a way with pets, wherever she goes animals seem to love being near her and try to get her attention. She is a talented artist and she makes straight As. She is quiet and reserved but very compassionate and sensitive.
- My senior is gifted at mechanics. He has been taking things apart and putting them back together since he was 2. He can take apart his computer and then rebuild it. He built his own robot when he was 12. He seems to have a knack for knowing how things work. He is also a hard worker and very responsible.
There is of course more to the development of self esteem and confidence but if you are a parent, don’t assume your kids know what is great about them. Make sure to tell them, repeatedly. They will hear enough of what is not great about them from the rest of the world. Mean people are everywhere.