Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Q & A--self-esteem

I noticed as I read about you that you were once terribly shy. I am a mother of two very shy kids, a six-year-old and a four-year-old. I have been looking for ways to help them come out of their shyness. I know that being shy is not a bad thing. I just want to make sure that they can learn to be confident in themselves and also learn to speak up and be able to share their opinions etc.. any advice for me in helping them... also how did your parents help you overcome being shy? Any advice would be great!

My main three answers for your questions would be to 1) give it time, and 2) in that “time” while you’re waiting, build up their confidence, and 3) give them safe opportunities to “look people in the eye” and talk to others that aren’t entirely intimidating.  I remember my Dad doing role plays with my sister growing up.  They would practice ways to greet friends she would see at school.  With our kids Dave and I talk a ton about how important it is just to even smile at others even if they’re feeling shy.  It's amazing what a difference a smile can make.

My favorite thing my parents did with me when I was young to build up my confidence (that I know I talk about a lot) was the “talents on the fingertips” thing that I talked about back here. I’m telling you, that thing works like magic. My kids get so happy when I grab their hands with a ball-point pen poised to let them know what they’re good at. And I think there’s nothing like a little boost in confidence to crack some kids out of their shell.

I think I’ve grown out of my shyness a lot (mostly thanks to some friends who were boys when I was a sophomore in high school who didn’t let me get away with not talking and staying in the back halls at lunch), but in a lot of ways I’m still pretty shy. I’m ok with that.  I agree with what you said: shyness isn’t a bad thing…some kids are just more quiet than others.

I am wondering if you have ever dealt with negative self talk with any of your kids, and how you deal with it? Parenting babies and toddlers is so intuitive for me, but I feel in over my head often with my oldest who is seven! Tonight she got in trouble (for being mean to her sister) and all of a sudden started sobbing and saying things like "I'm a horrible person" and "I don't like myself" and I had NO idea how to handle it!! Mostly I just realized how over-tired she was from staying up too late for two nights and put her to bed... but I need a strategy if it comes up again!

I bet you're exactly right, she was probably over-tired.  But if it continues maybe she just needs some extra genuine praise…not in the midst of the negative talk but just randomly through the day.  One of my new years resolutions is to seek out the best things my kids do each day and be sure to tell them details of why I appreciated that. 

I know I personally feel like doing my own kind of negative self-talk when I’m tired so that’s probably a huge part of it. 

There is a book that was talked about at this retreat back here that I have wanted to buy ever since that I think may help too.  It’s called “Your Child's Self-Esteem ” and I just ordered it on Amazon for myself for my birthday next week:)  Can’t wait.  Click here to check it out.

I know there are tons of wise mothers out there who may have much better advice for these mothers asking the questions…if you do, pipe in!
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