There’s no doubt that parents want their kids to be happy, healthy, and confident. We all want our kids to love themselves, and it’s our job to show them how to do this. No doubt it can be equally difficult to be a kid as it is to be a parent these days. There are high expectations from society for both girls and boys: academically, athletically, and socially. With the expansion of technology, there can also be pressure and expectations related to social media, how kids view themselves and also how we parent. Many kids are looking to see how many “likes”, “followers” and social media friends they’ve gotten to view their popularity. We as parents need to be on top of their accounts, both what they are putting on the internet and reading. It’s important to teach them that their worth is not marked by social media, but by how they feel about themselves.
As a counselor, I work with kids to help them find their place in the world and how they view themselves. There are many ways I do this. One resource I love for younger kids is a book listed in our resource list this month titled “HOW FULL IS YOUR BUCKET?” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer. The concept is that each person is born with an invisible bucket that represents a person’s mental and emotional health. Its purpose is to hold good thoughts and feeling about themselves. You can’t see the bucket, but it’s there. It is the responsibility of parents and caregivers to fill a child’s bucket. This can be done by nurturing, holding, singing, and playing with your child. It’s also done by providing loving attention and safety for your child. Love = filling your child’s bucket. Parents can fill their child’s bucket but also need to teach children how to fill other’s buckets too. Once they learn these concepts, they learn that caring about others and showing it through words and actions will feel good and fill their own bucket too. Children who learn to express kindness and love lead happier lives. It’s really such a simple concept!
There are other activities that I do with older kids to help them focus on positive attributes to improve their self-esteem. Here are two worksheets I have clients complete and then discuss during sessions:
This sheet focuses on identifying their strengths and positive qualities. Many times children and teens can get stuck only recognizing negative stuff. This can help them begin to think about themselves in a positive manner.
These are daily self-esteem prompts that can be journaled about. This is usually given as homework and then brought back to discuss in the next session.
Parenting is not easy. We always have someone watching our every move and listening to each word that comes out of our mouth. This means we need to fill our own buckets and others too. Think of what a great world we’d live in if everyone had a full bucket!!