“The way that parents influence their children most deeply, however, is by example.” Harville Hendrix
Thursday, 8:21 a.m.
As powerful as your words can be in influencing your teens behavior, how you act carries even more weight. This is not only true when speaking with your teen directly, it is also applies to how you behave on a regular basis. One of the most insidious ways that many parents negatively influence their children is by how they treat themselves.
Unfortunately, many parents have a low self-image. They often criticize themselves in front of their children, saying things like, “I am such an idiot,” or “How could I have done something so stupid? I’ll never learn.”
Such comments may seem harmless enough, they are, of course, most often just a figure-of-speech. Nonetheless they can have a devastating impact on a child. Younger children, those up to about age eleven, are, what are known as, concrete thinkers. That is they see the world in black and white. They are literal. They believe what they hear.
They may even ask, “Mommy, why are you an idiot?”
Teenagers, on the other hand, are beginning to develop more abstract thinking behaviors. They may even be able to tell the difference between your use of a figure-of-speech and actually criticizing yourself. Yet the covert message you are sending is that it is OK to speak like that to yourself. You are telling your kid that it is OK for him to put himself down.
Why is this Bad?
A strong self-image is critical to self-confidence and ultimately to success in life. Self-doubt has the opposite effect. It cripples our ability to perform at the level we are capable of performing. Whenever we criticize ourselves or say, “I can’t do this,” we not only weaken our own self-image, we sow the seeds of self-doubt in our children. If repeated often enough, those seeds of self-doubt will grow like ivy on an oak tree, eventually strangling any sense of self-confidence you or your child may have.
If you’ve ever wondered why your teen seems to lack confidence or ambition, then the first place to look is in the mirror. Ask yourself, “Am I a confident, self-assured person?” If your answer is not an immediate and resounding, “Yes!”, then your behavior may be negatively influencing your teen’s sense of self-worth.
Fortunately, we can all learn to be more self-confident and self-assured. We can all learn to be more assertive and ask for what we want. With systematic effort and a commitment to be more assertive we can all grow our self-confidence. It can begin simply enough, by each morning taking inventory of what you like about yourself. Then, while looking in the mirror, say to yourself, “Just for today I am going to act as if I am confident and capable. Just for today I am going to ask for what I want.”
If you repeat this for a week you will be amazed at how differently you feel. You will be amazed at the difference in the quality of your interactions with other people. You wont feel that queasy uneasy sensation deep in your stomach as much.
Most importantly you wont negatively influence your teen with your behavior.
Remember for things to change you must change. You cannot expect your teen to become more self-confident if they see you constantly criticizing yourself.
Start today while the desire is hot. Every day you delay, the power of your intention pales until it is just a faded memory. Every day you delay, everyday you neglect yourself, you erode your sense of self-worth. Simply by starting today you can increase your sense of self-worth. Simply by starting today you can increase your self-confidence.
Use the phrase…
JUST FOR TODAY…!
“Just for today, I am going to speak in a clear, calm voice.”
“Just for today, I am going to choose healthy food over junk food.”
“Just for today, I am going to say, ‘I can do this!’”
“Just for today, I am going to say, ‘No!’”
“Just for today, I am going to set a good example for my teen.”
“Just for today…”
Everyday, just focus on today. Everyday, focus on what you can do today to increase your self-confidence and positively influence your teen.
Everyday, say to yourself, “Just for today!”
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