Growing up, I thought loving and accepting yourself by the time you got to adulthood was a given. I believed that you developed this heightened sense of confidence with little effort other than ageing. Turns out that's a lie. In fact, I know plenty of people who struggle with both to confirm it.
It got me thinking about the importance of our childhood and how we are potentially missing out on an opportunity to teach and support children to love and accept themselves from an early age.
As you might know, if you read my blog regularly enough, I have 0 experience with kids and I'm also not a parent. I am therefore completely unqualified to talk about how to help your child practise self-love and self-acceptance. However, I found the perfect person who IS qualified to do just that.
Nicole Henry is a Child Therapist and mum-of-one from Essex. Through her private practice, Nicole sets out to help and support parents, guardians and schools to improve the mental health of children and young people.
Nicole has kindly agreed to share her expertise and experience in child psychology to help parents understand how they can support their children to love and accept themselves from a young age.
Do you think it's important for children to practise self-love from a young age? If yes, why?
I think it’s very important for children to practise self- love. I think children begin with a lot of self-love and as they get older, self-love diminishes due to it not being nurtured or maintained and then it becomes harder to accept and face. As we get older and grow into adulthood, self-love gets neglected as we are quite busy with life. Children have the great advantage of school holidays to embrace self-care, relax, enjoy, and have down time. They appreciate themselves so much more without even noticing it. Children from a young age know what they want. They know what they like and don’t like.
What do you think are some of the main reason’s children might struggle with self-love or acceptance?
Children may struggle with self-love or acceptance because they lack feeling loved or seeing an example of love around them. When children are younger its quite often children are told they are loved, get lots of hugs and kisses. But as they get older it slows down or even stops. Another reason would be some children may lack confidence in their identity. Not knowing who they are and where they come from can affect their identity which links to their confidence. This will result in a lack of self-love for themselves.
How can parents help their children to practise self-love and self-acceptance?
Be a role model – be an example of self-love. As you model this behaviour, children will naturally adopt this behaviour.
Affirmations – I listen to the radio on the way to work and I hear children coming on the radio either saying or asking to receive their daily affirmation. I believe in the power of affirmations. All children that I work with at the end of my sessions, I must affirm them. This is the last thing they take from the session. If they didn’t get anything else, they took an affirmation.
Challenge their thoughts – When children think or speak negatively of themselves it’s good to challenge their statement. Challenging the statement will prevent the child from embedding the negative thought in their mind. There will come a point whereby they will counteract their own thought before saying it and change it to something with a positive outlook.
If a parent struggles with self-esteem or confidence issues or perhaps struggles to accept who they are, how can they ensure this doesn't impact on their children and their ability to practise self-love?
This isn’t something you can ensure. Every child is different. Some children mimic the behaviours of their parents and others do the complete opposite. The best thing to do to ensure it is not something the child develops is to work on yourself first. Be more confident, be kind to yourself and understand your value and worth as a parent. Then no matter what happens with the child, this can still be taught as their parents have this understanding of knowing who they are and how to love themselves.
Are there any resources you'd recommend for parents who would like to make a real effort to practise self-love with their children on a daily or regular basis?
I would recommend reading my magazine, My Tea Mag, or checking out the Seven Days of Kindness Calendar. Links to both can be found below.