Supporting the development of self-worth in kids has been a highly debated topic often marked by complaints of overindulgence, unjustified praise or constant ego-boosting. Amidst the heated debates, however, there is an elegant solution to this very fragile and misunderstood concept.
Initially, children have blind trust in the world and in their caregivers. For a short period of time during a child’s early years, the reasons for this are obvious. And, it goes without saying, the safer the environment, the better for the child.
Eventually, however, the child must engage with the world as it is, as painful and as challenging as that may be. So, let’s cut to the quick. What can we do about this?
Well, we can do a lot, quite frankly, using a few simple yet powerful tools.
Although it may sound counterintuitive, the first seed we can plant within our child’s budding awareness is the idea that trust starts within. What adults eventually figure out, and what kids can learn early on, is to trust themselves first before they can make accurate decisions about who and what to trust in the external world. This may sound daunting, but here are the keys. To facilitate your child’s growing awareness of self, help them to recognize their own unique and individual:
Make sure that kids understand the difference between emotions (reactions of the mind) and feelings (inner sensations that emerge when we are balanced and open). Teach them the difference between thoughts (the product of mental activity), insights (recognizing an underlying truth) and awareness (intuitive understanding, knowing). Help them to engage in activities that calm the mind and open the connection to heart (art, music, nature, play).
When we learn to trust this internal information, we cultivate a very important and empowering attribute called discernment. This is about the gradual learning about self, one’s own sensitivities, thoughts, insights, feelings, and awarenesses, and coming to recognize that these inner experiences make sense, at least to the individual having them. This matters greatly because this internal information (a kid’s innate GPS) can and should be trusted in order to help them make powerful decisions in honor and support of self.
If kids can learn to do this, and they can, they become very clear, strong and self-directed. In the absence of this kind of self-understanding, in seeking much needed information and support, the child instead tunes in to external sources for answers. Hence the question naturally follows, “What should I do?” or “Give me the answer to this question I have about me?”
These questions emerge rather than the child responding with the statement (or feeling), “How do I choose to define myself in this moment.” The child who responds in this manner is in-touch, aware, unapologetic and empowered. This level of conscious understanding is “worth” speaking. This level of understanding is trust-in-action. This is allowing the inner being, the soul-within-the-human to manifest.
Ultimately, helping our children embrace their worth is about helping them understand themselves from the inside out. It’s a progression that unfolds over years, sometime decades, but it is one of the most fundamental and life-changing gifts you can give them: Trust Starts on the Inside.
Supporting parents & caregivers, keeping young hearts open and empowered (and old hearts too!) is what The Parenting Sessions is all about. For more information, listen to our latest broadcast here at http://www.awakeningzone.com/Episode.aspx?EpisodeID=2956 or visit us in our archives at http://parentingsessions.com/Parenting_Sessions/Radio_Show_Archives.html. Or check us out at www.parentingsessions.com.