Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Raising your child with a healthy self concept

Each rose is perfect and beautiful, just as it is!

We live in the age of immediate commentary.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the countless other forms of public online forums allow us the ability to weigh in with our opinions and observations in real time.  And not only can we do it, we see it being demonstrated for us everywhere.  Television shows and news reports reference tweets made by anyone with a twitter account.  So what is everyone commenting on?  It seems lately that we are all commenting on other people's looks.  Why are we so obsessed with how other people look?  Frankly, I think this ideology is being sold to all of us.  It is good for the economy.  When people walk around in fear of being judged, what do they do?  They spend money, on plastic surgery, haircuts, new clothes, diet programs, health clubs, and any other number of things to "fix" themselves.  The truth of the matter is, none of us needs fixing.  We are all unique and beautiful in our own right.  So how do we fight back against this constant unhealthy tide of judging ourselves and others by their appearances?

Let's teach our children the powerful message of love and acceptance.  That is where it all begins.  At home.  At the beginning.  As they are growing and learning about their world.  Don't let the media serve our children up the idea that we all have to live up to some unrealistic vision of universal beauty.  Be the voice in their heads that reminds them that there is beauty in the essence of every person on this earth.  Teach your children that a person's actions and character are much more important measures than bra size or BMI (body mass index).  Let them know that it is not cool to say unkind things about another person.  "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all!" is a mantra that was repeated to me and then my own children over and over again.

Be the parent who teaches your children to look deeper than the clothing that someone wears, or the size and shape of a person's body, into the very heart of a person in order to get to know them.  Encourage your children to choose friends who are honest and interesting and loyal and truthful.  And as with anything, you as the parent need to model these behaviors.  Don't gossip about other people in front of your children.  Don't be that critical voice that freely puts yourself or others down in front of your impressionable little ones.  If they hear you criticizing your own body or physical features, it hurts them because they love you so much.  And it also sets them up to do the same to themselves.

The message is clear.  It we want our children to feel good in their own skin, we must help them understand that they are beautiful--as are each of us.  Beauty comes from within.  The rest is merely marketing.  Don't buy into it--for the sake of each of your children and their well being.
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