Can you love your child too much? Love them too much in a way where you never want them to take risks or know what it’s like to fail?
As a Mum I worry constantly about my children. Are they warm enough? Have they drunk enough? Are they eating well enough? Are they getting enough exercise? Are they Happy? The guilt trip of parenting, constantly questioning myself and worry. I do over think sometimes! I think this is parenting isn’t it?
One of my biggest worries, is my children growing up with no self belief or self-esteem. If they don’t believe in themselves then no one will. Every parent wants the best for their child, don’t they? How can they be their best if they don’t believe they can be the best or even work towards being the best. Now it sounds like I want them to be arrogant and big-headed but that’s not what I mean. Like all things in life it’s trying to find a balance. Making them feel special without them thinking they are better than everyone else.
So with all this in mind I thought I’d do a bit of research and reading about building children’s self-esteem. What I thought I’d find was, articles on loving them unconditionally, praise the good, ignoring the bad, etc. ect. Blah blah blah. Thinking I’d just need to read a few reminders and I’ll be back on track at being an awesome Mum (debatable), boosting Holly and Emma’s self-esteem and all will be hunky dory. To be fair I did read a bit of that in some articles. Thinking I wasn’t failing too badly I then come across another article that made me really think about myself as a parent and whether I do too much for my children, potentially preventing them for being able to think for themselves. Smothering them with too much praise. Can we do that, praise them too much? After reading that article I came up with a list of top tips and what I feel I need to do to follow them.
- Stepping back. – Let you child take risks, make decisions and solve problems. This one, I find really difficult. Start with the hardest first. Not because I don’t trust my child but because I don’t want them to get hurt or anything to happen to them. Of course none of us do. Holly will soon be reaching the age where she will be wanting to walk home from school on her own. This freaks me out. Not because I don’t think she is capable but because I’m scared she’ll get abducted. (See I told you I over think things) With so many reports in the media these days it has got harder for parents to let their children go, so for me this is a difficult one. It doesn’t stop me discussing it with Holly and letting her come up with the solutions though, this may dull my fears if I knew that she knows how to be safe or even knows what to do in that situation. I also realised I talk for my children because I know they are uncomfortable talking to adults they don’t really know. I’m talking doctors and dentists not total strangers. I hate their discomfort and want to take it away so I talk for them. I know I shouldn’t and from now on I will hold back, it might be uncomfortable now but it will make it easier on them later on. I love that they need me and rely on me but it’s not helping them so I need to learn to love their independence instead. I need to stop fussing.
- Let them make their own choices – Let them choose what they want to wear, decide if they need a coat, etc. Now this I’m quite good at, letting them choose their own clothes. To me, it’s letting them express their own individuality or personality, even if Holly used to look like Lady GaGa when she was younger. Holly and I do debate sometimes on appropriate clothing so I need to learn to butt out here. I do, also still remind them when they need a coat, sun cream, sun hat etc. though. I will have to try hard to break this habit.
- Let them help. – House chores, cooking etc. Bonus, cheap labour!!! Need I say more. Chore chart coming right up!!!
- Encourage them to see it through. – If they start something, encourage them to complete the task and not to give up. Praise them when they complete it. How many people give up before they have finished? Both mine are a nightmare at this. Half completed craft sets and half built lego sets literally litter my house. So my mission in the next free weekend we have, is to sit down with them and help (not do) Holly and Emma, to complete some of them. Hopefully they will feel good for completing something and this will give them the motivation to finish other things too and not give up if it get’s too difficult. I do try to remind them of things they practised and practised until they could do it. Holly’s example is hula hooping and Emma’s is the monkey bars. They are both pro’s at these and far better than me at them. I can’t do either.
- Not to constantly praise or over praise.- Only praise when it’s really earned otherwise you lower the bar for them to achieve. This I was surprised at, at first but it does actually make sense. If you constantly praise the little things, it makes the big things insignificant and will give them less desire to want to achieve.
- Tell them and show them you love them unconditionally.- Now that’s just teaching me to suck eggs!!! Of course I love my child, who doesn’t love their child!!! Reading into it deeper, extra love and hugs should be given when a child struggles or fails. This help’s them get over it quicker and show them it’s ok to fail or find things hard.
- Don’t lose any sleep over it.- If your child fails or is struggling don’t worry about how it is effecting them, it’s a good opportunity to build on it. I suppose if they see your worried then it reinforces that it’s something to be worried about. It’s a good time to remind them of what they are really good at and what they have achieved. This I can do! Out comes the memorabilia. John says I’m a hoarder pfft !
- Set goals for them to work towards – No brainer. If they meet their goals they’ll feel fantastic. Just need to make sure their not unrealistic goals though or too easy!!!. Emma wanted to give up swimming but I said not until she can swim a length. Paid for the full term and she swims it in the first lesson. Hmmmm now how do we encourage her to see the full term, we’ve paid for, out!!!! She was incredibly proud of herself when she did it though, and so were we. Funnily enough she hasn’t asked about not going anymore so I think her own achievement has spurred her on to continue.
- Encourage them to keep trying. – This goes with encouraging them to stick it out and would follow a struggle or a failure. This can be incredibly hard to do if they are they adamant they don’t want to. This is where you don’t give up, keep reminding them and keep encouraging them until they get fed up with you keep going on.
- Be careful what you say – I know both Holly and Emma can be sensitive at times and can sometimes easily take offence to what is said to them. If I was to point out there failures I know that it would knock their confidence. I was always told I was the thick one of the family, when I was growing up. Although this gave me a tremendous drive to prove my Dad wrong, it has always stayed with me that he never saw me as quite good enough. Maybe if he dropped the insult and showed me he was proud when I achieved I still would have had the same drive and have kept my self-esteem. A good saying that comes to mind here is ‘If a fish is judged on its ability to climb a tree it will live out its life thinking that it’s dumb’. Sometimes I feel like that fish!!!
The main thing I’m going to take away with me after writing this post, is that I need to lead by example and show them that I trust them. Show them that it’s ok not to be good at everything because they have special qualities and strengths in other things. Tackle these issues with a positive approach so they remember how awesome they are.
Is my love for them hurting them? Not anymore.
Anyone else hate seeing their children struggle and find it difficult not to rush to their aid?