Parents need to convey the attitude:
“You are valuable and you matter to others.”
A woman recounts:
“I remember as a young girl, I left church with my friends and didn’t go with my family as usual. While playing with my friends, I lost track of time and didn’t return home promptly. When I came near the house,I could see my mother’s worried face looking out the window.
My father met me and said, “Your mother has been concerned about you. She was worried about your safety.” I was truly surprised; I hadn’t realized my absence caused distress. But in that moment feeling parental love and concern, I knew, “I am important to my family, and they care about me.” Although this event occurred nearly 50 years ago, I have not forgotten it.”
Family Flag*Family Mottos*Family Songs*Family Stories *
An idea for a family flag came from the Robbins family. On their flag was a bird nest with five robins (representing five children) chirping for worms. To design your own flag: http://amhistory.si.edu/ourstory/pdf/starspangled/design_flag.pdf
A Family motto can be fun. The Paul family would chant, “One for all and all for one, ain’t it great to be a Paul!” Another with a more spiritual tone: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Borrowing from the Air Force, one family motto was “Return with Honor.” A grandfather told his children, “When I am in heaven, I want you all there with me, no empty chairs.” So the motto, “No empty chairs” became their watch cry.
Family Songs: Music can be motivating and unifying. Your song and be silly or serious like an anthem. Try re-doing the words to a popular rap song or round like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
Family Stories showing endurance motivate family members with the theme, “We can do hard things” or, “we are clever and we can work out solutions to difficult problems.” Such stories inspire children with the idea that they have blood of the noble and mighty running through their veins. After hearing about Grandma Josephine crossing the prairies, shooting bears and cooking over a campfire a child can conclude, if Great-Grandma can do hard things, so can I.
You may doubt your family has any inspiring family stories—look harder. Every ordinary life has moments of bravery and courage. To get started ask yourself these questions:
· How did I learn honesty?
· What was the hardest thing I ever had to do?
· When did I get myself out of a difficult situation?
· What was difficult about my parents or grandparent’s lives? How did they over come?
· Who served as a good example to me?
Children need heroes—look at how many Spiderman, Superman or Spider woman costumes are sold for Halloween. It is far more valuable for a child to admire a family member instead of comic book character for it builds a personal and family identity. Then the child feels a valuable part of a GROUP AND precious as an INDIVIDUAL. Then we have happy kids, happy parents.
Camille Foster, LCSW
Contact Me/ 801.472.7134/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Other posts on children and self-esteem:
Johnson, Sue. (2008) . Hold me tight, seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York: Little Brown & Company.