I caught an interview with supermodel Emme regarding “Fat Talk” and how women, even those with no true weight issues, will find negative things to say about themselves just to add in on a conversation or show they “get it” when a friend is body bashing. It got me thinking about what we are modeling for our own children.
A couple of years ago, on Mother’s Day, I woke up to a sign taped to my mirror that says, “Good Morning Beautiful Mother, we love you!” My heart burst with appreciation for my daughter’s note, it was such a sweet way to start my day. Honestly, my second thought was, “If only it were true, but I really appreciate the sentiment.”
In full disclosure, as a parenting educator I KNOW that the messaging I put out there is being absorbed by my kids and it will influence their own self-messaging, but as a 40-something mom of 3 who fondly remembers the 20-something body I used to have…well, let’s just say I needed an attitude adjustment and fast!
What is it that parents need to be aware of? Ask yourself the following questions:
When someone compliments me do I quickly deflect the compliment?
Am I more aware of the things I like or don’t like about myself?
Most importantly, what do my children here me saying about myself?
Why is that last one the most important? Because kids will follow our lead! During the interview Emme said that she had to learn to accept a compliment without following it with “but” and then a negative dig on herself. Her technique: Take a deep breath, say “Thank You” and just stop, do NOT let a negative statement follow it.
In respect to our direct messaging to our kids, think about what you’re saying. When your kids come in and ask: “How do I look?” instead of, “You look pretty today” which values your daughter’s appearance you could say “Wow, the colors your chose to wear today are really bright and happy!” or ask your child why they chose a particular outfit. (My son had a friend, Will, in preschool who LOVED to wear a suit, it was just what he was happy in! He knew what he wanted, was comfortable being different and his fabulous mom let him just be himself! What a great lesson life lesson for him!)
When is comes to achievements, make sure you praise the hard work your child put into attaining their goal instead of the achievement itself. It teaches our kids to set goals, put in the hard work and not be afraid of challenges. Even if they didn’t win the Heisman trophy, if they persevered through long practices, enjoyed being part of the team and found out they can push themselves and get through it…think about the lessons learned!
As for this mom, I’m learning to accept compliments and stop talking (thank you Emme!). I’m also feeling more comfortable talking about what I’m good at and I’m allowing myself to set goals. My children see me struggling, achieving and appreciating the process, warts and all!
Try this: Write an affirming message on a Post-it Note and put it where you’ll see it every day. Add similar notes to your kids’ mirrors too! Keep adding, until you have a collection of affirmations and be aware of your attitude change as time goes on.