For some time now we have been working with our son on managing his personal responsibilities. Things like making his bed in the morning, bringing his dishes to the sink, picking up his toys, unpacking his back pack each day, and putting his clothes in the laundry hamper are things we expect him to do every day. Well, I admit that over the summer, for a number of reasons, we were a bit lax. I knew we needed to get back on track with these responsibilities, and the new school year seemed to me like the perfect excuse to put more focus on these tasks again.
Although our discussion with our son about balancing his responsibilities and privileges during the school year when well, we got a lot of push back when it came down to him actually following through on his responsibilities. In fact, it got to the point where we decided to severely restrict his privileges for a number of days.
This restriction of privileges resulted in my son to attack his own character. He started proclaiming things like "I make bad choices". While I was happy that he was taking responsibility for the loss of his privileges, I was pained to hear him be so critical of himself. You become what you think about! The last thing I wanted was for him to have low self-esteem.
I knew I needed to do something fast to turnaround his thinking and help him think more positive thoughts about himself.
As we discussed the situation, it became clear that my son reluctantly wanted to earn back at least part of his privileges. I've never really allowed my son to earn back privileges before, but I suddenly had a light bulb moment. I realized I could let my son earn back some of his privileges on a day by day basis, while at the same time, get him to utilize a technique that would have him thinking more positive thoughts about himself.
I told him that if he wanted to earn back a privilege for one day, he would need to sit down and write 20 times "I love myself". He needed to do it with his best handwriting, and without a fuss. Well, that first day, not only did he write beautifully, but he seemed to actually enjoy writing this affirming statement.
The next day, if he wanted to earn back a privilege, he had to write "I am now making good choices." He chose to do this, and again, his writing was beautiful and he seemed peaceful and happy as he wrote out this statement 20 times.
Writing affirmations, such as these is an extremely powerful way to improve one's thoughts. When you improve your thoughts about a situation, you can effortlessly improve the situation itself.
The only downside I have found with writing affirmations is that they require a bit of discipline to do. It's easy to say you'll have your child do this, but it's quite another thing to help them find the motivation to do so. For us, learning back a privilege was the motivation my son needed to utilize this powerful process.
So, what results have I seen from this process? Not only has my son been following through with his responsibilities, but I am now seeing him treat himself in a more loving and gentle way. When he messes up, he still accepts responsibility for his actions, but rather than beat himself up over it, he is being more compassionate toward himself. And this is really what self-esteem is all about; loving yourself please your actions.
Consider where there is a way you can work the powerful process of affirmations into your child's life to increase her self-esteem. The feedback I have received from parents which children write affirmations is that overwhelmingly, the child enjoys the process, not to mention the truly powerful results parents have seen from this practice.