Say you’ve been researching the impact of food and nutrition on your child’s health and you’ve decided to feed your child differently than the majority. Or maybe food sensitivities or allergies are preventing your child from eating the foods that others are eating. We already know that the everyday challenges of childhood – feeling different, being teased, feeling left out – aren’t any different for children with health concerns than those without, but they can be magnified. In addition to teaching your child to understand his or her own body, you may want to simultaneously strengthen your child’s self-esteem so that your child becomes more comfortable with doing things differently. Yes, his or her self-esteem will build over time but there are steps you can take to build your child’s self-esteem faster.
If your son or daughter has high self-esteem, he or she knows his or her value. Your son’s feelings of self-worth form the core of his personality and determine how he lives all parts of his life. “In fact, self-esteem is the mainspring that slates every child for success or failure as a human being.” Your Child’s Self-Esteem by Dorothy Corkille Briggs.
Self-esteem comes from the quality of the relationships that exist between a child and those who play a significant role in his life. It is up to you to show your child that he matters just because he exists.
Here are a few steps you can take for increasing your child’s self- confidence, no matter the age:
- Spend time with your child, as much time one-on-one as possible, showing your child that you enjoy being with him or her. Ask your child questions about matters that interest him or her.
- Play with your child, even it’s just for 10 minutes a day. For some, it is one of the hardest things to do, dropping all of your responsibilities and thoughts and just being in the moment with your child.
- Offer your child plenty of love and support. Explain to your child that you love him or her regardless of how he or she behaves or the mistakes made; you can even tell your child that there is a name for what you share and it is “unconditional love”.
- Consistently show respect for your child’s rights and opinions.
- Compliment your child on specific good things he or she does or says and minimize the importance of your child’s mistakes. If you focus on your son’s mistakes, your son will also focus on the mistakes he makes. Children believe what they are told – they have no other reference points.
- Organize fun places to go and unique things to do. Your child might not be eating what others do but they are doing activities that others are doing.
- Clearly define limits on your child’s behaviour – a child wants discipline and wants limits; rules help your son or daughter feel that he or she matters.
- When it comes to healing a rift in your relationship, nothing beats loving touch and children are particularly sensitive to this. Even when one of my daughters and I are having a disagreement, it will take all my strength but I will reach for her, fold her in my arms, hold her on my lap and all is well. Loving touch can be a part of each and every day.
Education brings confidence in your decision-making and reduces worry. Your child will also have more confidence by being better informed so the more you can share with your child about what you learn about food, the better, of course, being cognizant of the fact that you cannot talk about food incessantly!
And don’t forget that the mind has a very powerful influence on health – if your children know that you love them and you are doing your best to make them feel better, feel better they will.
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Until next time,