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How to Give Your Child a Healthy Self-Image

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The childís family is an emotional mirror that reflects the attitudes and feelings that the significant people in his life (especially mom and dad) have towards him. This, as much as anything, helps shape the child's self-concept.

If children see and are made to feel loved, wanted, and of true worth, they will learn to feel good about themselves. If parents spend lots of quality time with them, do things as a family, give them the attention, approval and compliments that they need, show and tell them often that they are loved, and genuinely believe in them, the children will learn to love and believe in themselves too.

But if they are continually criticized, nagged, put-down, teased, unfavorably compared to other children, rejected, smothered, punished severely, over-controlled, or just neglected by not receiving sufficient attention, unconditional love and affirmation, they will come to believe that they are of little worth to anyone.

Third. Self-esteem is caught as well as taught. Therefore, another effective way to give a child a healthy self-image is to have a healthy self-image yourself. If you love and accept yourself in a healthy way, it will be natural for you to love and accept your children the same way. If you donít like yourself, it is nigh on impossible to teach your children to like themselves. Unfortunately, we raise not the children we want but the children that we the parents are.

Fourth. If a child already has a poor self-concept, parents can help change it for the better. Given lots of unconditional love and acceptance, and being freed from any critical attitude, a child will respond beautifully. To do this, as already noted, the parent needs to resolve his own issues and work on improving his own self-concept. The fact is that we can only give what we have received for ourselves. In other words, we cannot give what we haven't got.

Another effective way to
give a child a healthy
self-image is to have a
healthy self-image yourself.

Resolve resentment. If a child has been hurt deeply by anyone, especially if he or she has been abused or neglected, professional counseling may be needed to help the child work through the resulting emotions of fear, hurt, guilt, shame, and/or anger. Without resolving these deep damaged emotions, a child doesn't have a chance of having a healthy self-concept.

Discover Godís love. The most effective way to help give a child a healthy self-image is through communicating God's love to him/her.

We need to teach our children that no matter how insignificant they feel or what they have ever done or have failed to do, God loves them unconditionally and accepts them totally just as they are in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Pray for your children every day. Pray with them every day. In your prayers with them thank God that he loves them just as they are and ask him to help them to love and accept themselves just as he loves and accepts them. Make sure you love them in the same way too!

Repeating positive affirmations that are true can also be helpful such as the following example: "Because you love and accept me God, I love and accept me." Print it on a card. Tape it to the front of the refrigerator and on your/their bathroom mirror. Speak it out loud every day.

Most important of all, don't tell your children the way to find God and experience his love. Show them by coming to him yourself and experiencing his divine love, acceptance, and forgiveness. Modeling is the most effective way we teach our children anything.

1. Your Childís Self-Esteem by Dorothy Corkille Briggs, page 3.
2. Ibid, page 25.

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All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.