Impacting Positively on Children’s Self Esteem…..
‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t…you’re right.’ Henry Ford
Beliefs shape our reality. Whether we think we can or we think we cannot is down to belief, not facts, but when a person holds a belief with strong conviction, it can feel as if it is a fact. We all have beliefs… about the world, about how the world is, about people, about ourselves. Some of us believe we are lovable and deserving of love, some of us believe we are not. Some believe that financial success is essential to happiness, others believe it absolutely is not. Some believe that to rely on others will lead to disaster. Others believe that close bonds are always worth the effort, even if people sometimes let you down. There is no right and wrong when it comes to beliefs and while we may not even be fully aware of what it is we believe, make no mistake about it… our beliefs are the thing that influence us most, not just in terms of how we think about things but what actions we take or don’t take, how we make decisions and how we live our lives. And our believes were most likely developing many years ago, when we were soaking up what was happening around us, absorbing by osmosis into our unconscious minds the stuff that became beliefs.
Becoming conscious or aware of this fact then brings up the question of how we can influence the beliefs that children and adolescents are forming about themselves and the world. They too most definitely forming beliefs about themselves and the world and this process is a very active process when you are very young. When we are very young, we learn a lot about ourselves and the world through our experiences particularly with those close to us. Children develop core beliefs about themselves based on their experiences in the world so for example, a child who is listened to when he has something to say will most likely be developing a belief such as ‘I deserve to be heard’ because that is what his experience is teaching him. He will grow up believing that he has the right to express himself and be heard and will more likely not hold back when he has something to say. If the people closest to a child show them through their actions that they are deserving of love, respect and care, the child will grow up to believe they are deserving of love, respect and care. This will then set their expectations when they enter adult relationships and they will enter adult relationships believing that they deserve to be treated well. While this belief may not be apparent on the surface, it will be there, deep down, where all of us hold our core beliefs.
From around the time children start school, they are very well able to engage in conversation. One good way to start to encourage children to become conscious of what it is they believe is to ask them direct questions about beliefs.Questions such as…’what do you believe people like about you,’ ‘what do you believe is more important, to be kind or to be popular,”what do you like about yourself and why’. These types of questions bring what may be happening on an unconscious level up to a conscious level. By becoming conscious, we become aware and even for a child, this process of becoming more self aware can lead to greater self-esteem.
Ask a child what they believe about something. Ask them why. Their core beliefs are forming so you have lots of opportunity to influence them and steer them in a direction of endless possibility. You can influence how they see themselves and see the world.What a gift.