When children feel good about themselves, they have healthy “self-esteem”. Having a positive self-image has long-term effects on a child’s ability to take risks, self regulate their emotions, behavior, level of achievement, and more. The benefits of having a healthy self-esteem are seemingly limitless.
Self-Esteem can be nurtured in so many ways.
But, what about self-esteem levels for kids with behavioral struggles that leave them feeling “less than”. How can self-esteem be nurtured in a child with challenging behaviors that can make parenting tough? When a child is struggling with behaviors from ADHD, Autism, adjustment to divorce, blended family issues, early childhood trauma (before adoption), and more, behavioral issues are often a pain point in the family dynamics.
For those hard days with situations that leave you feeling exhausted, upset, and hopeless as a parent… Many of us reach out to express these feelings to our friends, family, teachers, therapists, and other people that are important in our child’s life. To “vent”.
Does this sound familiar?
“I have told her 50 times to put her backpack in her room. She just doesn’t listen. And the tantrums… I just can’t stand the way she talks to me. Somethings wrong with her and things are going to change!”
What’s the best way to de-esculate this situation and lessen the probability of such emotionally charged situations in the future? Having a positive mindset can make a difference.
It can be so helpful to reach out for support and sharing our frustrations with others. It is so important though to keep your focus on the change you desire as much as possible.
“I would like for her to speak to me with respect and follow directions more.”
The words that we choose has the ability to shift our mood, energy and ultimately the child / parent relationship. It is also important to not say things that could feel degrading and foster humiliation about her to others while our kiddos our present. Feelings of inadequacy, shame, humiliation, and disgrace in a situation that feels like a verbal attack, which can create a strain, and sometimes even worse, a rupture in the relationship. It can put a painful emotional wedge in your parent / child relationship. Focusing on what is wrong, more than the positive behavior that you desire, can escalate situations much more. The focus should always be on “de-escalating” rather than intensifying. It helps our kiddos to self regulate their emotions.
As parent, we are in a position to build our children up with encouraging comments, clear limitations, and lots and lots of love and respect.
This “speak mindfully with intention” mindset can make a HUGE difference. When a child feels like the parent cares, they will want to satisfy their parent by making better choices, even when things get heated. Children feel more motivated to try harder amidst struggles that they face when they feel believed in, loved and supported.
Nurture and cultivate your relationship with your child(ren) through mutual respect, love, and understanding – especially when things get stressful.