The development of self love in a child has significant positive impacts. We often think that a child will inherently grow to love themselves, but it’s important to teach children about self-love just as we would teach them about anything else. Benefits to self love include increased strength and resilience, increased productivity, and decreased stress.
It’s important to note the difference between self love and self esteem. Self esteem is the confidence in abilities and seeing oneself as being “good” at something. A person may have high self esteem when it comes to academics, but low self esteem when it comes to sports. Self love is an overall acceptance, understanding and appreciation of oneself. The difference is necessary to note as a child may seem to have high self esteem, but may be unaware of the importance of self love or how to incorporate it into their acceptance of themselves.
One of the most important ways to encourage self love in a child is to help promote a growth mindset. The term growth mindset was developed by Stanford University Psychology Professor Carol Dweck. Carol Dweck stated, “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”
It’s important to note that there are two main types of mindsets; a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. A growth mindset is the belief that through effort and practice, a person is able to change their abilities. People with a growth mindset are often inspired by other people’s successes, see challenges as opportunities to grow and learn, understand the process is more important than the outcome, and learn from feedback. People with a fixed mindset are often threatened by other people’s successes, believe intelligence cannot be changed, avoid challenges, and give up easily due to obstacles.
A growth mindset and self love go hand-in-hand. When a child has a growth mindset, they learn to accept mistakes and see themselves as being capable of trying new things and overcoming challenges. With a growth mindset, a child understands that their achievements came from hard work. So how can you help facilitate a growth mindset in your child?
Praise the process
It’s important to focus more on the process and effort that goes into something versus the outcome. It’s crucial to be genuine and specific with your praise. Instead of saying “good job!” it’s significantly more beneficial to say “good job trying to use another strategy to figure out that math problem.” Being specific lets your child know exactly what they did that you are praising, which is more likely to increase that behavior moving forward.
Talk about and accept mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow
Model talking about your own mistakes and how you used them as opportunities to learn and grow. Explain to your child that the brain is a muscle, and just like any other muscle in the body, exercise helps it grow! When your child overcomes challenges and continues to put in effort despite difficulties, they are exercising their brain and helping it grow.
Model resilience, self love and positive self talk
In addition to modeling the importance of accepting mistakes as opportunities to grow, it’s crucial to model resilience and positive self talk. You play a huge role in influencing your children’s mindset. It’s necessary to show your child that you are excited by challenges, see mistakes as learning opportunities, and understand the value of practice and overcoming difficulties. Using positive self talk will help you develop your own growth mindset as well!
Understand the role of emotions in learning
Express to your child that feeling frustrated is a natural part of overcoming challenges. It’s important that instead of giving up, a child has the tools to help themselves self regulate and handle the frustration without giving up on a challenge. Belly breathing is one of the most beneficial tools a person can use to help themselves feel regulated. This video does a fantastic job of explaining belly breathing to a child. Encourage your child to take a brain break and belly breathe when feeling frustrated.
This month, praise the effort and process when your child is working hard to make Valentine cards for their loved ones. Encourage your child to make a Valentine card for themselves with a little self love letter. This activity will help your child engage in positive self-talk, and reflect on all the things they truly love about themselves. It’s the perfect way to practice having a growth mindset!