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This is a question I recently heard from a client who is in her early 20’s. She’s bright and capable, and yet, she’s at a loss for what to do to start to build her self-esteem – and she’s reflecting a common confusion about what to do to get there.
We’re taught to feel confident, but not be conceited.
So, we’re caught in a big conflict right from the start of how to navigate confidence
We’re supposed to have high self-esteem, but not taught the tools and strategies to help us get there.
So, often it’s when we’re adults that we start seeking out ways to figure this out and connect with our self-worth.
Both genders have challenges when it comes to being able to be their full selves in the world and they manifest in different ways.
With boys, the pressure is around hiding emotions and vulnerability.
With girls, it’s a sacrifice of self to be ‘good’ and have relationships.
These challenges lead to negative effects and often result in our children hiding their voices and true selves around the tween years.
It’s all about prevention.
By sharing powerful, mental health practices with your children, you can help prevent the inevitable emotional landslide and keep your kids happy, centered and aligned during this rough transition.
What if your kids got to learn all the tools to be confident BEFORE any drama happens?
What if mental health was valued in the same way as academic success?
That way, there wouldn’t be the loss of confidence that needs to be regained.
When challenges come along, children would already be equipped with the tools to navigate them, so the result wouldn’t be a loss of self-worth.
Confidence is multi-dimensional.
It takes more than simply practicing believing in one’s abilities.
Here are seven tools all children need to build their confidence in a foundational way:
Strong home and family life is something I always start with when I’m working with a client or student.
Something that grounds you to your roots is especially important for tweens because they’re starting to step out and explore their independence.
People who specialize in teaching young children to manage emotions often advocate for creating a calm corner in the home.
What they’re doing at a root level is to help establish the home environment as a safe space to retreat to center yourself.
Older kids need this kind of support too. You can empower your tweens at a deeper level to really start to building on that toolkit of things that comfort them and help them feel safe.
Something that shakes the foundation of strong home and family is fear.
Fear can be something vulnerable to talk about.
So, if you bring up the idea of what comforts you in the same conversation as, What are you afraid of?…
1- You begin to normalize the emotion. Bringing it into conversation shows that it can be okay to talk about fear in the same way it can be to talk about comfort.
2 – The solutions are being generated from inside your child. It can be hugely empowering when one realizes, ‘I have these fears AND I also have these things that I can do to comfort myself and calm those fears.’
Things like connecting with your culture and establishing family traditions are also good ways to relate with family life on a deep level.
One of the activities we do in the Chakra Kids Empowerment Journey is to create your own new tradition.
It could be something that’s as simple as making a meal on a certain day, or anything really that’s coming from your child’s inspiration.
Letting them take the lead helps it sink in and creates those roots- it also shows them that they’re a valuable member of the family whose ideas are considered.
The second tool is authentic friendships.
This is very important and what I promote as a way to combat toxic friendships, negative friendships, bullying – whatever term resonates with you.
A way to teach this can start to happen through casual conversation.
You can start to simply ask, What are the qualities of a good friend? What are you looking for in a friend? In what ways are you a good friend?
And then you can also weave in there, what ways can you be a better friend?
When children get clear on what kinds of friends they really want, it’s easier to avoid participating in friendships that don’t feel good.
Again, it can often be more successful when you introduce talk about conflict resolution and how someone can improve on their challenges without it having that vulnerable, direct addressing of something you did wrong, or an issue you have.
It’s a positive approach that doesn’t ignore the challenges, but instead brings them into the same space as everything else.
Celebrating the friendships you already have is another way to teach the tool of authentic friendships.
Part of authentic friendships is also acknowledging that sometimes your friendships are necessarily your peers. You can expand the definition of friendship to being someone who is part of your support system, someone who is there for you, looking out for you. A simple way to do this is to write gratitude notes to friends.
For children to be able to find their own happiness, they need to know they can be themselves AND have relationships. Without true friendship, this is impossible.
The third tool is inner strength and resilience.
We need core power and strength, the will to go on, because there are things that come up, obstacles to be overcome and challenges we experience.
There are also things that you want to accomplish that need an inner fire to motivate you towards the goal.
So, teaching all children to connect with their inner power is crucial.
Just as important is the resilience– because how do you manage to keep going when it all doesn’t work out the way you planned?
How do you get back up again?
— Musical Interlude….Trolls soundtrack anyone? If something goes a little wrong, well, you can go ahead and bring it on, ’cause if you knock knock me over, I will get back up again!) —
One of the tools I teach for inner strength and resilience in the Chakra Kids Empowerment Journey is to make a power playlist.
It’s a fun activity to do, especially as a way to engage more resistant kids.
Pick some songs that energize you and power you up — (FYI- you will catch yourself singing them — I am currently asked by my daughter (kindly, at least), to stop singing my power ballads in the morning.)
The next tool is self-love.
Self-love is huge.
I feel confident to state that everyone reading this understands what it’s like to have a struggle or a doubt about your self-love.
Self-love is one of the biggest foundations you can offer your children, especially before you see struggles with self worth.
We need to balance the strength practices with the more tender energy of self-love.
One reason I love the chakra system so much and why I use it as a framework to teach personal growth is because of the close connection between power and love.
We need to balance out the fire of will and reaching for goals with forgiveness for mistakes and acceptance of not being perfect.
Sometimes, we all just need a big hug!
An activity that is quick and helpful is to create a Love Jar. The concept is that you write positive things about the child on pieces of paper — you can, people who love them can and they can write them.
Whenever they need, they can take one out and read something nice about themselves, even if they doesn’t feel like it or believe it fully at the time.
The next tool is self-expression and voice.
The ability to speak your truth and share your opinions when it might not be something that other people agree with, or you think it’s not going to help you fit in.
It starts at such a young age, where I even see my four-year-old daughter register what is going to hurt someone’s feelings and I can see her processing inside herself whether or not it’s okay to share it.
An important aspect of cultivating self-expression includes exploration.
Some tweens don’t know what they like or what they’re passionate about.
Some parents will share that they’re lost at the idea of something like helping their child plan a passion project, because they have no idea what they care about.
This is normal! Part of building one’s voice is giving the space for self-discovery to explore.
It can seem counter-intuitive, but my biggest tip to support self-discovery of voice is to LISTEN.
Give your children space to explore their ideas and listen to what they share without judgment.
From there, they can build the courage to share with the world!
The sixth tool is mindfulness.
My favorite definition of mindfulness is Jon Kabat-Zinn’s: “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Being able to calm your mind and establishing your own toolkit for what helps calm the waves of your mind is a crucial tool.
This is the most simple tool of the group to practice on a daily and momentary basis.
All you need is a breath.
Anytime you notice a pretty flower, a shape of a cloud, a hug from someone you love, these are ways to practice being present in the moment and not in your mind. It’s not easy to master, but it’s easy to practice.
How can you bring a simple practice of mindfulness into your children’s daily life?
The last tool you need to balance all of this out is imagination — especially at the age of transitioning from a child to a teen.
It can be a stark difference to witness a group of 8-9 year olds and a group of teenagers.
The younger kids will often act spirited and it doesn’t seem like they care what others think. Flash to the typically more reserved inward energy of teens, where they’re very aware that others are watching and they’re being more serious, more ‘adult’.
Having the ability to connect to your imagination, to give space for things that don’t seem possible or practical to achieve, increases hope and the potential for happiness.
Even if it’s something that never would or could happen, when you give space to dream, it expands the possibilities of what could happen.
And, it balances out a lot of the other complex things your tweens are going through.
Tweens are required to be more responsible, to figure out how to organize themselves, to reach their goals.
They’re are also trying to figure out the ‘already expected’ ways of being successful and how they could fit into that as their true selves.
With all those things, there are limits and structure.
With imagination, they have access to the infinite.
So, let your tweens dreams run wild!
Ok sure, this all sounds great.
You KNOW you want to guide your kid to be centered, balanced, happy and in touch with their emotions BUT you’re not quite sure how?
Like on a day-to-day basis, how do you do that?
Here’s how – download my 108 tips for Balancing Your Kid’s Chakras now!
It’s a cheat sheet with 108 tps, tricks and suggestions for helping your tween develop good mental health practices… get your copy now!