The kids were anxious. I knew many of them and I knew their stories. We had the popular guy, the anxiety ridden girl, the bully, the boy with Aspergers, and the boy who sends inappropriate text messages. I was interested to see how each of them would introduce their project to us at this science assembly. Would their voices and body language match their story?
- The popular boy addressed the crowd smiling and solid on his feet. He used an upbeat voice with good volume. He made eye contact and swaggered confidently back to his seat. He was in his power.
- The anxiety ridden girl almost missed her turn. She must of hesitated too long because the teacher almost concluded the program before she realized the girl needed her turn. Was her power drowned out by her anxiety?
- The boy who sends inappropriate text messages looked like he wanted to shrivel up and hide under a rock. His eyes were on his feet as his voice delivered a barely audible introduction. Where did his power go?
- The bully was loud, but spoke quickly and wanted to get off the stage as soon as possible. She looked vulnerable and out of her power. She sprinted back to her group. Is her group her power?
- The boy with Aspergers shifted back and forth from one foot to the other and did not make eye contact with anyone. He was very nervous and fidgety. He was anxious to return to the safety of his teacher. Can he find his power?
Why are so many children struggling with anxiety, anger, and low self-esteem? Why are so many kids tearing each other down? Why are so many kids lacking in self-value and respect for others? Who was boosting kids self esteem? What is their story?
Most of the children I observed operated by getting their power or confidence from an outside source. A phone with text messaging can empower a shy, insecure boy. A group of peers can empower a girl that needs to put others down to build herself up. Unmanaged anxiety and fear overpowers confidence. But, how different could each of these children be if they found their power or self-worth from within? How different might they treat others if their story or sense of self was strong? What can parents do to nurture their children’s internal power or self-belief?
An easy and effective technique is to introduce your children to positive statements. Most children can create a list of everything they do not like about themselves but have difficulty writing a list of their good qualities. Like many adults, they spend their days listening to an invisible but outspoken tape that plays negative statements in their head. They tell themselves that they are “not smart enough, not pretty enough, not wearing the coolest clothes, not fast enough” and on and on it goes.
We as parents can help our children by feeding them positive statements so that they can start replacing the negative with the positive. Leading by example is a great place to start. The next time you are about to tell yourself that you stink at using the internet, take a deep breath and say out loud, “I can do this” or, “I am getting better with computers every day.” Show your children how you use positive statements over negative. You will be helping them to create an internal sense of power. Power is synonymous with confidence, high self-esteem, self-love, self-worth, and self-belief. By starting with self, we are writing a story with our children that reflects understanding, compassion and happiness not only for themselves but for relationships with their peers and communities.
Introduce your children to the many books available on affirmations also known as positive statements. I wrote a story called “Affirmation Weaver” to help my own children counteract negativity and reach their fullest potential. I want my children to dream big and fearlessly explore all of their hidden talents. I want them to step forth into the community with calm confidence while standing firm in their knowledge of self. I want them to inspire others and make a positive difference. I want them to express love, creativity, compassion, and courage. Their power will come from self-awareness, self-love, and self-expression. In doing this they will create their own powerful story of life.
It is never too late to change our stories for ourselves or for our children. A change of attitude can propel us into leading a fulfilling life where we reach our fullest potential. What is your story? What is your child’s story?
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Lori Lite is the founder and author of Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Build Self-Esteem, Manage Stress, and Reduce Anxiety. Her award winning children’s series,Indigo Dreams introduces stress management techniques through storytelling. Lori’s constant upbeat presence on Facebook and Twitter make her a real-time resource for anyone seeking practical advice for stress free living. For more information visit StressFreeKids.com