Developing self-esteem within our grandchildren starts with how we reflect our self-esteem in our behaviors and conversations. Both parents and grandparents will be examples to grandchildren, and how we talk about ourselves and our abilities will give them cues about how to view themselves.
First, let’s define what self-esteem is and is not.
Self-esteem is confidence in our abilities and a positive opinion of our worth. It’s found in the essence of self-respect.
How do we view ourselves as a person?
Is our self-talk generally positive or derogatory? Do we view ourselves as capable and worthy of good experiences and relationships, or do we view ourselves as losers who don’t deserve good things?
Self-esteem is NOT about having an overinflated ego that thrives on viewing others as substandard. We can consider ourselves good, competent, and capable humans without tearing down others.
How does developing our self-esteem affect developing self-esteem within our grandchildren? If we pull concepts from the definition, we can practice positive self-esteem behaviors that help young ones develop positive views of themselves.
1. Encourage them when they struggle to learn skills or behavior changes.
2. Encourage them when we see them handling relationships with parents, siblings, or friends in mature, responsible ways.
3. Tell stories about how we learned certain lessons related to matters of self-esteem that made us a better person.
4. Share life skills with them that help them to feel productive and capable. Basic life competencies go a long way toward building confidence. Cooking, home care, car care, laundry skills, money management - these basic skills make people feel like they can care for themselves.
5. Share how we feel when we accomplish something. For example, simple statements like the following help children understand how accomplishments affect their self-worth.
I feel great that I got the lawn work done today, and my home looks neat and well-cared for.
I finished a big project at work today and am excited about it. I know you’ll be doing great things in your chosen profession or job someday.
When I take good care of my car, it’s reliable and gets me where I need to go. Someday, you’ll have a car of your own to care for. You’ll love having the freedom of a reliable vehicle.
The underlying messages of the above statements relate to how we feel about ourselves, think about our accomplishments, and take care of the things that help us to live life fully. They plant hope for the future in a young heart and mind.
We don’t have to lecture or spend hours telling a child how to feel better about themselves; we need to live a lifestyle filled with teachable moments and intentional positive reinforcement of good behaviors and thought processes. When we take time to be intentional with developing our self-esteem, we don’t just help ourselves, but we also help our grandchildren, who learn from us.
It is well worth the effort!