Teach Self Love and Give a Child the Greatest Gift Possible

Teaching your child to love himself is the greatest gift you can give a child. If you could endow your child with just one thing, it should be this.

What’s the point of singing songs if they’ll never even hear you?
— Sufjan Stevens, Carrie &  Lowell

When we tie a child's activities to an evaluation of his performance (like when we say "good job" or "nice work"), we are removing his ability to judge his own work for himself. He begins to equate how good of a person he is with the verbal approval of others.

We reverse this effect when we teach children to evaluate their own work and put the results in perspective in comparison to the amount of effort it took to learn a skill or complete a project.

Some Amount of Self-Doubt and Humility are Normal

Every human has a few doubts about self-worth. It keep us humble and safe from taking risks that are too great. It comes along with the awareness of the abilities of others as we compare our own contributions to society. If the doubts consume us, they can lead to high stress, anxiety, and even depression. Dark. Lonely. Empty. Numb. Have you been there?

Maria Montessori makes no bones in The Secret of Childhood about how sensitive children are to their surroundings and how the actions of their caregivers can have lasting effects on their emotional stability as adults.

During her time, Freud's revelations about the connection between adult mental illness and childhood experiences were new and shocking. Montessori tells us:

"These childhood sufferings of a purely psychic order are slow and persistent, and they have never been recognized as causes of psychic illness in adults. They sprang from the repressions of a child's spontaneous activity by a dominating adult."

By teaching our children to look to us for affirmation rather than within themselves, are we not dominating them? 

We all have the Potential for Growth

Thanks to neuroscience, we now know that the human brain has an amazing capacity to heal itself - to rewire faulty habits, overcome traumas, and learn new skills to help change our futures. But it takes time and extraordinary effort on the part of the adult.

For the child, learning is automatic, like breathing. Everything in the child's world is absorbed. When I close my eyes, I can hear voices from my childhood and feel the hugs.

We love you. We love you. We love you. 

You belong to us. 

We have always wanted you. 

You bring us joy. 

We are amazed by you, but not because of what you do - because you are you.

You can decide your own life for yourself. 

We believe in you. 

No matter what happens in life, we will always love you.

Do you know what a wonderful person you are? We do. Do you?

What matters most is what you think about yourself. 

We love you. We love you. We love you.

When I feel that twinge of self doubt creeping in, I can always hear those words in my head, and they ground me until I recover from my emotional state. What do the voices from your childhood say? Does it affect how you feel about yourself today? What can you learn from them?

If your own inner voice is not positive, what can you do to make sure your child's inner voice becomes positive?

Your Words Will Matter More Than You Know

The broken record of words you present to your child over and over will stay with him forever. When he picks up a guitar and starts to sing, don't just applaud, tell him the point of singing.

You sing to satisfy your soul. You are the one hearing you, and that's enough to justify any song.