It was Hannah’s first day of school as a “big second grader.” It seemed only yesterday that I was rocking “Nana’s Sweet Hannah,” the name I call my firstborn grandchild, in my arms. My daughter and I shed a tear as Hannah walked out the door with her book bag hung over her shoulder. Behind my computer screen via way of Facebook, I felt compassion for Mothers who were sending their “teenage babies” off for their first day of school. They, too, couldn’t believe that Father Time had slipped up on them.
In the preceding month before the school bell rang for another year to begin, Moms all across America went into high gear preparing their children for that first day: orientation meetings were attended, hours were spent buying new clothes and school supplies, the pantry and refrigerator were stocked with lunches. At last, Mom and child were ready - let the school year begin.
May I take this opportunity to ask you a few questions about another much needed preparation that might have slipped your mind in the midst of the hustle and bustle?
Did you prepare your child for:
- the bully they are sure to meet at school or on the bus
- the time that they are chosen last for an activity or not chosen at all
- the time that they are made fun of because of a disability
- the time that they hear a cruel remark about their appearance
- the time that they fail a test, despite how hard they studie
It is these type of things that can cause a child’s self-esteem to spiral downward, and they cease to see themselves as someone who is loved, valued, and having worth. Obviously, parents cannot lock their child in a cage and shelter them from the world around them. However, parents owe it to their children to build a self- confidence in them that cannot be shaken when demeaning acts of unkindness cross their paths.
Allow me to offer a few tips for building Self-Esteem in children.
- Instill in Your Child the Way God Sees Them - Start each day with scriptures showing him how special he is to God. 1. God’s love for you is higher than the heavens (Ps. 108:4) 2. God created you with a beautiful body (Ps. 139:13-14) 3. God calls you his Friend (John 15:15) 4. God chose you (Eph. 4:1) 5. God created you with special abilities (Romans 12:6)
- Point Out Strengths You See in Him - Often time’s children do not recognize their own abilities. Not only tell them things you have noticed they are good at doing, but write them out and pack one a day in his book bag for him to read during the day.
- Teach Him that Losing Does not Make Him a Failure - Children love winning. However, losing is a normal part of life. When he fails a test, seize the opportunity to help him develop better study habits. When he loses a ballgame, use it as a time of learning about good sportsmanship, not drowning in defeat.
- Encourage Him to Help Others - As adults, we realize that one of the most fulfilling moments of our lives is when we help others. One of the best ways to promote this idea in children is to encourage him to be a friend to: the new kid at school, the child that is purposely left out of activities, the child with a disability, going with a child who is being bullied to tell an adult. Not only does this make the “other child” feel accepted and valued, but it makes your child have a feeling of worth, knowing he has helped someone.
- Instill in Him an Attitude of Thankfulness - Set aside a time each day for him to give thanks for: the way he looks, the abilities he has, how much God loves and values him, and most of all teach him to be thankful for “just being me.”
One final tip that I am sure you do not need to be reminded of:
Send your child off to school everyday with a big hug.
Have a good school year with your child and enjoy the ride before these precious years have passed you by.