Is saying I Love You Enough? - Building Kids Self Esteem.

I am trying something new. My kids are getting older and their self-esteem is going to be a huge factor in their success both in high school and beyond. When we moved here it was obvious that my son’s self esteem wasn’t as secure as I thought it was. He was so unsure of himself, who he was and how he’d fit in. For my daughter the opposite was true, she came out of her shell and developed more confidence in herself.

When my kids were young they found pride in themselves whenever they learned a new skill. I always gave them opportunities to learn how to do things on their own. They were proud of themselves when they learned to put on their own clothes, their own shoes and then tie those shoes (which took my son a little longer than most). They became more skilled as they figured out computer games and toys on their own. Often they would ask me how to show them how to do stuff before they even tried, I’d always say "figure it out." They almost always did. When they couldn’t then I’d step in and show them a step or two. They’ve become very capable in their own abilities.

Now that they are older, especially my son, things are different. At 10 he’s starting to care about his appearance, be interested in girls, worrying about fitting in. He’s questioning himself and if he’s good enough. So I started thinking, how can I help him love himself?

I’ve always told my kids that "I love you" on a regular basis however I think I need to do more. I’m trying to tell them why I love them and what I love about them more often. So instead of just saying "I love you," I’ll say "I love your ability to problem solve," or "I love you because you have the cutest freckles." Not just "I love your freckles" because if they don’t then they’ll just ignore it, but I’m hoping that if they know that I love them because of their cute freckles they’ll learn to value those freckles.

This new approach has made me realise all the things I love about them. I’ve had to really look at who they are and what their strengths are. I’ve had to take time to talk to them, get to know what’s important to them and then let them know that I love them because of it.

My husband doesn't agree with me and thinks "I Love You" encompasses everything so therefore it's enough. Which may be one of the reasons I don't always feel secure in his love for me.

I don’t know if this will help to build their self-esteem but it can’t hurt. I asked my daughter why she loved me the other day and she just said "because." I don’t want them wondering why I love them, I want them to know I love them because of who they are. I don’t ever want them to question my love for them or assume I love them because I have to. I want them to know that I value them for them and not because I’m their mom.

Other Online Resources for building kid's self esteem:

Kids Edge on Self Esteem
Building Your Child's Self Esteem
Child development info Website

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