The words our children hear are the words they will speak internally to themselves. What interactions and feedback are these little humans that we’ve raised receiving from their external world? As parents, we should be champions, not challengers, of our kids’ self esteem. We are human, and so is everyone else in our kid’s daily life, so naturally, there will be days when someone says something negative that our child takes to heart and nurtures as truth. We, as the protectors and warriors of our families, must be a shield against the arrows of other humans that provide feedback for our kids.
I know we’d like to all think that our child leaves their bed in the morning and walks through a field of flowers to school, meets their friends on the corner of the playground, shares a batch of homemade cookies that another mom has prepared, and heads into the classroom, where the most innovative and higher-level thinking is taught by the most qualified teachers. Does this sound like your kid’s world? Honestly, I don’t think this has ever been a day in the life of our kids. A more realistic day would be that my kid hears his first harsh word of the day from me, unintentionally, yet still it emirates from my lips… since I’d already asked him to get out of bed for school three times and he didn’t and now everyone is late. I snap at him and remind him that the world doesn’t revolve around him and that now the whole family is going to be “off” the whole rest of the day because we didn’t get started on time. We shovel breakfast into our pieholes as we dash into the car, where I drop him off. I notice a furrowed brow as he pulls his heavy pack from the backseat and onto his shoulders, and remember that he has a test first period this morning that we were supposed to go over at breakfast. I see him running with a bagel being held by the teeth in his mouth as he swings his backpack to his front to reach in and grab his notecards. He trips on the step just a little; not enough to fall, but enough that the boys standing by the door snicker. My boy slows down his movements. I see him take the bagel out of his mouth, drop it into the garbage, and sling his backpack over his shoulder like life is no big deal because he knows his peers are watching and silently judging. He glances at the boys that laughed, glances further behind him at my car, still idling in the drop off. He smiles with just the very edge of his lip, more like a muscle twitch to let me know he sees me and that we are still on the same team, even though we had a rough morning. He looks toward the classroom door, shoulders slumped, and enters his other world.
This is NOT the scene we want to set for our kids. This is NOT the foundation we want to provide. This type of morning is not a springboard for excellence and forward movement on our kids’ paths. And this familial interaction is just the first of many hurdles our kids will have to navigate in a school day. If we are honest with ourselves, we know they will have several other interactions throughout their day that add weight to their shoulders, then they’ll come home and do homework for hours—not what we planned for their little lives when we dreamed of being parents.
So what tools can we employ, what changes can we make to be a champion rather than a challenger? What actions can we take NOW to teach our children how to ward off criticism from others, and perhaps even turn it into power that fuels their excellence? There are ten simple things we can take action on TODAY to change the value of our children’s school days and academic life that will promote extraordinary self worth and personal value.
These tools will offer your child internal strength that they are strong and powerful as human beings in the world. This helps them stand tall in the face of adversity, using their own strong self of self-value.
- #1: Speak to your children that way that you hope they will speak to themselves internally.
- #2: Create an environment that promotes high function. Plan for time for a slow wake up and morning time if your kid doesn’t get up immediately. Read your kid’s needs and accommodate for excellence.
- #3: Teach your children to be self motivated, not motivated or driven by fear of failure or ridicule.
- #4: Model kindness to others to teach your children to stop the chain of criticism in their own worlds. Be a kind uplifter of others around you and make sure your child represents kindness.
- #5: Offer opportunities for truthful and non-threatening communication daily. Ask your child how their day was and listen honestly without giving criticism or opinion.
- #6: Be an academic parent; be involved in your child’s academic journey. Plan for homework and study needs; be on the same page and be helpful to set your child up for academic success with your 100% support.
- #7: Think out of the box with your child. Teach your child that there are many ways of reaching a goal, and that sometimes teachers and friends and peers may not necessarily do things the same way, but that that doesn’t mean your child’s way of thinking is wrong and they should travel their own path.
- #8: Be your child’s greatest champion. Let your child know daily that you have their back and are their biggest fan.
- #9: Be a strong and fair co-parent. Make rules reasonable and understood. Work with your co-parent and never throw them under the bus.
- #10: Show your child that they have value as a human in the world separate from what they do. We must make sure our kids know daily that we think they are magnificent, just for who they are in their souls.