Helping a Child Know Their Worth
Please read this, especially if you have children. This morning I saw this quote graphic on Todd Lohenry’s blog. Although we can all learn something from this quote, I really thought about how we can apply this to children and teens. This can be a great teaching tool!!!
Teens are trying to find their identity. Social relationships are especially important at this age. According to Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, adolescence experience a stage of development called identity vs. role confusion. In this stage, teens are trying to develop a sense of personal identity. If they are successful, they will be able to stay true to themselves.
Teens who develop a healthy sense of self are…
- more confident.
- more decisive.
- less likely to give in to peer pressure.
- less likely to engage in self-injurious behaviors such as cutting or burning themselves.
- less likely to abuse substances.
- less likely to be sexually promiscuous (looking for love in all the wrong places).
- less likely to develop eating disorders.
- less anxious.
- less likely to get into abusive relationships.
- more likely to form healthy adult relationships.
As parents, we have a HUGE role in helping our children develop a strong sense of self. It begins with us, even before peers come into the picture. We can begin by letting our children know that we love them unconditionally. They need to know that we love WHO they are. We may not like some of the things that they do, but our love for them never changes.
When our children see their worth through our eyes, they begin to internalize their own self-worth. They need to know that they do not need to earn our love, it just is.
When children feel like their parent’s love is conditional and needs to be earned, they fear that they could lose that love at anytime. This is not only anxiety provoking for children, but it teaches them to seek love from those who they perceive don’t love them. In other words, if children need to work really hard to earn a parents love, they carry this pattern with them into adulthood. As adults, they will form unhealthy connections and pursue people who do not know how to love them rather than connecting with people who do.
Rather than finding someone who truly cares, the challenge becomes, “How can I force this person (who really doesn’t care about me) to love me?”
As parents, we need to accept our children for who they are while instilling values, maintaining boundaries, and providing structure. We need to let them know that they are acceptable even when their behavior is not. We need to let them know that their feelings are valid, even when we really do not understand. We need to let them know that we don’t just love what they do and how they perform, but we love the person that they are.
If we can do these things, our children will grow up knowing that they have worth. They will know that they have so much worth that they will not sacrifice their values for anyone. Instead, they will connect with people who love, value, and respect them. Those who do not, they will let go.