Teaching Your Kid Self-Love When You’re Still Learning To Love Yourself
By Sabrina Boileau
PHOTO © samiah.mccarthy/Twenty20
Jun 21, 2019
I’ve always been a self-conscious person. It's not something I like to announce, but I guess it's just part of my personality — maybe it's who I am.
Not feeling good enough, not feeling pretty enough, not feeling skinny enough — it’s always been something I’ve struggled with.
I hadn't realized all of my negative self-talk and negative habits were being taken in by her.
I’d compulsively look at myself in the mirror and point out my flaws. I’d weigh myself every day and get upset over the numbers that kept popping up. I just never felt like enough.
But then I became a mother.
I was still my own worst critic, but now, it wasn’t just affecting me. At 18, I was only just realizing the damage I'd been doing because one evening, I saw the situation through my daughter's eyes.
More From Sabrina: I’m Not A Teenager With A Baby — I’m A Mother
I was having an off day. I was feeling down, and those are the days I am the most negative about myself. As always, I went to weigh myself and (as always) was disappointed when I saw the number come up. So without thinking, I grabbed at the skin around my waist and made a face.
Then something happened.
I looked up and saw my amazing, beautiful daughter grab at her belly and make the same face I made. My two-year-old had just imitated me, and I saw it from her point of view. I was mortified, and so disappointed in myself for not realizing what I was doing. I felt like I had completely failed as a parent.
But then I became a mother. I was still my own worst critic, but now, it wasn’t just affecting me.
I immediately picked her up and hugged her. We sat down together in front of the mirror and I told her she was beautiful.
I hadn't realized all of my negative self-talk and negative habits were being taken in by her. Maybe I should have. But I didn’t.
Ever since then, I’ve been making it a point to teach her self-love, and trying to love myself more in the process — for the both of us. So with each day, I try to talk negatively about myself less. I'm working to build my self confidence, while also building hers.
What does that look like? Well I've been trying to focus on what I like about myself. I stopped going to the mirror and analyzing every inch of my face. And instead of calling myself ugly or pointing out the things I wish I could change, I’ve been actively working on self-acceptance.
Relevant Reading: 6 Tips For Helping Girls Develop A Healthy Body Image
I know this is a long and difficult journey, and I know I'm not alone in going through it. But I’ve grown up feeling negatively about myself — it's time to make that change. Especially now that I have a little one watching me.
I don’t want her growing up with the same feelings I had about myself.
We all want what's best for our children, and I want to be absolutely certain my daughter has that and will continue to make sure of it. I don’t want her growing up with the same feelings I had about myself.
I don’t want her to internalize the negative things I have said about myself and I don’t want my words to be repeated later on in her own voice. I've taken that off day and used that experience with her as a lesson.
Now, after speaking so many words of love and kindness to her, she’s started to do the same. She’ll say, “Charlie’s pretty," or she’ll come up to myself or a family member and tell them the same. If I do something, she’ll clap her hands for me and tell me, “Yay! Good job, mommy!”
I've made a conscious effort to speaking kindly and encouragingly to her, and she has begun to mirror that to herself and others. All I want is to raise her to know that she’s worth being loved, most especially by herself.
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