As a Mom, one of the many things I worried about was my kid’s self-esteem. Especially having had a daughter who was bullied mercilessly about her appearance, I was constantly trying to let her know that I thought she was amazing. To be truthful, I did the same thing for my son once I realized that he struggles with his self-image. I told them over and over how wonderful I thought they were, talked up their good points and made sure they knew that they were amazing people. Then I realized that I wasn’t doing the most important thing- I wasn’t setting a good example. We think that its social media, TV and their friends that have the greatest influence on how they feel about themselves, but the truth is, it is OUR behavior as parents that has the biggest impact. You must talk the talk and walk the walk to show them a good example.
One night I was bemoaning my thin hair and my squishy stomach, when my daughter said something that stopped me in my tracks. She said,” Mom, you’re always telling us to love ourselves for who we are, why can’t you do the same? “
Oof! I realized then and there that the best way I could strengthen my kids self esteem is to live what I tell them. But how? I reached out to Michelle Phillips, a renowned makeup artist for some tips. I found Michelle when I went searching for some help with makeup and my aging skin, and started following her for her message that went so far beyond physical appearance - learning that beauty truly doers start from within with loving yourself. I knew she’d have some answers to how I can change how I portray myself to my kids and others! Here’s what she said:
1. Speak Kindly To and About Yourself The words we use to describe ourselves (whether out loud or in our heads) can have a direct impact on how we behave and respond to everyday stressors and situations. I realized this more when I started wearing hairpieces after being diagnosed with alopecia. I’d anxiously ask my kids if my hair looked “wiggy” or spend a lot of time trying to perfect it, when I noticed my kids concentrating on their appearances, too. I embraced my wigs and hairpieces and started sharing them on Instagram: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I embraced my hair loss and learned to love how I dealt with it. Not only did I get great feedback from my kids, but from other women who also experienced hair loss and loved my openness. It really built my confidence and I started loving all the different hairstyles and colors I wear. In fact, I figured out that I look amazing in wigs and love sharing them. BE KIND TO YOURSELF!
2. Treat Yourself with Care and Compassion -How we handle setbacks, obstacles and mistakes and how this impacts how our children will respond. How we can show our children what resiliency looks like and how forgiveness can allow us to move with mercy through our missteps. For example. I recently got a 1960’s mid-century modern Adrien Pearsell sofa from a friend. I never in a million years thought I’d be able to get one of these rare sofas, and it was in pristine shape in the perfect color. I loved that sofa, and kept it covered with a cloth when possible. Our puppy chewed a big hole right in the middle of the front cushion of the original upholstery of the couch where it couldn’t be hidden. Both kids looked at me, horrified, to see my reaction. I wanted to scream and cry, in fact, I started to, but then I took a deep breath, picked up the mess, told the kids that the pup obviously needed more exercise so she wouldn’t be bored to chew. . Okay, I DID cry, later, in private, but both of my kids were watching closely to see how I would react at that moment. I’m so glad I was aware of it so I could rein it in and set a good example. An added bonus is now everyone is getting more exercise walking the dog.
3. Give Yourself a Break Let’s face it, "mom guilt" is so common among women. The neglect of our self-care, of continuing to give while we are depleted, and not being able to enjoy time "off" when needed all teach our children that it's bad or wrong to tend to their needs. This leads to burn out, bitchiness and bad decisions My daughter pointed this out to me when my friends were getting together for a “manicure date” and I was moaning and groaning about how I couldn’t go, I had so much to do and take care of. She told me, “Mom, there is nothing going on that can’t wait. Just GO- do something for YOU”. So, I did. They need to see that everyone needs time for themselves, even especially, Moms. I even had the kids do the dishes that night to protect my freshly painted nails.
Learning to love yourself, and making the commitment to taking care of yourself is one of the very best thing you can do to help bolster your kids self esteem . It sounds simple, and it is. It may not be easy at first, but it’s so worth it!