Think about how often you say remarks out loud like: "This outfit looks terrible on me," or "I don't like the way my hair looks," or even, "I wish that my nose was straighter." Beyond appearances, oftentimes we can be hard on our abilities, saying things like, "That was so careless of me," or "I'm terrible at math." Comments like these seem innocuous enough, but can have a lasting effect on the little ones who are listening to our every word.
According to an article in Psychology Today, when parents feel good about themselves, they are better able to extend a positive sense of self to their children. That's why it's important to practice positive self-talk to teach your kids confidence and train them to see themselves in a good light.
It's also essential to pay attention to your tone and the way you speak to your children, as that is how they learn to form their own self-talk abilities. A study from the University of Amsterdam found that children whose parents speak warmly to them have higher self-esteem, which means that not only are our children learning from the way we speak to ourselves but the way that we speak to - and about - them as well.
Experts at Kiddie Academy Educational Child Care recommend three ways parents can help their children develop positive self-talk practices.
Say encouraging words and positive mantras
Joy Turner, vice president of education at Kiddie Academy, says it's important to model daily affirmations, which you can turn into a game. "When you're sitting down to dinner each night, develop the habit of going around the table to say a positive thing about your day and something you did well. Don't just have your children do it - make sure to include affirmations about yourself, too," said Turner.
When you start thinking of things in a positive light or looking on the bright side, it creates less stress and anxiety in your children. Focus on using encouraging words and family mantras that will pop into your children's minds when they're feeling down on themselves. Don't know where to start? A family mantra could be as simple as, "We are Smiths, and Smiths always try their best!"
Set attainable goals and expectations
The same can be said for both parents and their children - setting attainable goals and expectations is essential to higher self-confidence and satisfaction. If you only were to set goals that you could never achieve, you would always feel like you're coming up short. Your self-esteem would be low, and you would probably not speak very highly of yourself. The same goes for children whose parents place unrealistic expectations on them. Let your children set goals and encourage them to meet them, but always stay positive. Find ways to reframe negative thoughts to help your child develop this skill to carry into adulthood.
Leave room for mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes; it's how we deal with them that determines the lesson we will learn. Remember that every mistake your kids make is a learning experience and an opportunity for them to grow. "The best way to teach children to love themselves is to let them know they are human and to remind them of this when mistakes are made," said Turner. "Positively reinforcing that they can do better next time or that they can try again will help them to cope with failures in the future without affecting their self-esteem."
Children are watching and learning from their parents constantly, which means it's important to model the behaviors you want your children to develop. Focus on the good in your children and speak nicely about yourself, and you will show your children the importance of treating themselves with kindness and grace. And, you may just get your own confidence boost in the process.