Self-worth is not the same as self-esteem.
When kids have high self-worth they believe, “I am worthwhile no matter what.”
When kids have high self-esteem they believe, “I am worthwhile because… I am a good reader or I am good at helping or I am good at…”
There are two fundamental problems with self-esteem:
- It is based on external criteria, conditions or performance and
- It isn’t transferrable. Your child might have high self-esteem in sport but low self-esteem in their academic ability.
Self-worth is internal and transferrable! It is the deep belief that we are worthwhile, valuable and important no matter what is happening on the outside.
So how do we build our kids self-worth?
When children are 0-7 years old their brain is in Theta wavelength, which means whatever they hear, see, experience and learn goes straight into their subconscious and becomes the foundations of their beliefs. If you have a child or children in this age group to build their self-worth TELL them with words and SHOW them with loving actions that they are worthy of love no matter what.
- Tell them, “I love you no matter what” everyday.
- Cuddle them, kiss them and spend time with them doing fun and loving things.
- Introduce them to Sparky and encourage them to talk to and listen to Sparky everyday and to fill them selves up with Sparky’s love everyday too (Sparky totally loves them no matter what!)
- When their behaviour is challenging, tell them, “I love you, but I don’t like it when you… hit, kick, yell swear, etc.”
- Forgive your child. Don’t hold grudges or ‘make them pay’ for their mistakes. They are learning and your love, support and unconditional love builds trust that they are loved no matter what.
- When their behaviour is amazing, tell them, “I love you and I like it when you share, help, take turns.” Or “I love you and I am proud of you doing your best!”
- If your child actually ‘is’ the best at something of course it is okay to say, “Wow, I’m so proud of you! You won! You are the best at that right now. How does that feel?” (When kids perform well at something it is totally okay to build up their self-esteem! Self-esteem is healthy when it is built on self-worth!)
- When they fail or make mistakes and their self-esteem plummets, support them to feel their feelings and encourage them to ask their Sparky, “What now?” as in “What do I do now?” (Resilience is built on a strong foundation of self-worth!)
Okay what about our older kids?
From ages 7 – 12 children’s brain waves change to Alpha, which means that what they see, hear, experience and think now gets built on top of what they already believe. If something doesn’t match their belief system it gets stored as ‘not true’.
If your child is in this age group and does not have a strong foundation of self-worth, then you can help them change their mind (or beliefs) by repeatedly reinforcing the new belief in loving ways! This repetition with strong emotion will eventually overturn their old belief and take its place. (‘Eventually’ might be one week or eleven weeks if done daily! It depends on the depth of the old belief and the persistence with the new one!)
Practicality wise, we do all the above dot points with LOVE (the strong emotion) and if your 7 – 12 year old (or older child, this works with all ages) tells you ‘you are weird’ tell them why you are doing it! Then be loving, persistent and consistent!
Additionally you can throw in the old ‘affirmation’ trick where you get your child to brainwash themselves by saying, “I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy” several times a day!
If you are going to choose this option then why not go all the way and throw in a few more helpful beliefs like; “I am loved. I am safe. I am important. I am beautiful/handsome. I am a good friend. I am kind. I am fun. I am amazing.”
Ask your child to write “I am worthy” and any other affirmations they would like to believe on a piece of paper with colour or pictures to make it good to look at and then stick this poster up next to the bathroom mirror where they can read it (or ‘recite’ it if they can’t read) when they are washing their hands or cleaning their teeth. You could include a smiling photo of them on it too if you would like to!
If you really want to get into their subconscious you could also record yourself (saying “You are worthy”) or them saying (“I am worthy’) and the other affirmations too into a recording device with some of their favourite music playing in the background. Simply play this music with the affirmations in the background on a loop for half an hour while they are going to sleep each night (all night isn’t necessary – you want to give their subconscious some freedom while they sleep!)
Happy building your child’s self-worth!
PS In case you spent Tuesday waiting for an article from me – I’ve changed my post/blog day to every second Thursday instead! Sorry about that!