Can i give my kids self esteem?

28 May

If you met me you’d think i was confident. Assertive. And all of that is true, in some ways. If i had to enter a room full of people i didn’t know, i wouldn’t relish it. I’d feel uncomfortable and nervous. But i wouldn’t run away. I’d hold my own.

I don’t mind speaking up. Speaking my own mind. My husband will tell you sometimes i say too much.

But i have low self esteem.

When i compare myself to others i never think i’m quite good enough. Don’t know enough. Can’t do things well enough.

I think people will laugh at my opinions. My lapses of judgement. My silly dress sense.

At times my lack of confidence has been suffocating.

So the thing i wish for more than anything is that my children will believe in themselves.

It would be life changing.

But can someone with low self esteem bring up confident children?

Can a mum who never thinks she’s good enough raise children who believe they can do anything?

Is it nature or nurture?

If confidence is mainly genetic, do i have any control over how they will view themselves? How well they will see themselves matched against others? Whether they will take risks, because they see no limits. Fight their own corner through self-assurance.

Or will naturally cautious, nervous kids always make insecure adults?

If its nurture will i be able to switch off my own insecurities so that my children don’t follow my lead? Will the way i see myself determine how they see themselves? eachother?

I am careful to do all the things they say. Heap praise. Criticise actions not character. Encourage.

Tell them i love them. Unconditionally.

But, in the end, will it be enough?

This post is dedicated to Jobart who still doesn’t know what a great mother she is.

16 Responses to “Can i give my kids self esteem?”

  1. jfb57 May 28, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    Oh my goodness! This is a creepy piece because it is me down to a tee! As a head teacher I had to do all those ‘facing people’ things but I was like a swan – serene at the top & peddling like hell below!
    I am still worried that my son (33) is less confident than he might have been because of his ‘wobbly’ mum but he is his own person. Yes he has some of me (the good bits!) some of his dad (the not so good! ;) & lots of the world & what he’s made of it!
    They’ll be fine. Try not to worry! You’ve given them loads of other things as well!

  2. jomiddleton May 28, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    It’s the ultimate wish isn’t it – to bring up kids who are happy with themselves.

    If my teenager is anything to go by, I’m not doing a terribly good job of that at the moment. The absolute saddest thing I’ve heard as a parent is my children telling me they hate themselves or thing they’re a waste of space :-(

    So, I don’t have the answers…

  3. Tattie Weasle May 28, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    This is so poignant for me too! I have no idea whether it is a nature or nurture thing. My eldest is sensiitve while my youngest is full on. I think you are doing the right thing keep saying you love them and praise but also help them feel secure by being consistent – that is one of the hardest things to do but My Gran did that for me and I fuond it very helpful as I grew up. With them it didn’t matter if I didn’t play sport or always wanted to read. Maybe it’s becaue as parents we are too close to the problem and so worry like mad…

  4. JulieB May 28, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    I could have written this… the thing that breaks my heart is that I am starting to recognise this piece of myself in my eldest daughter, and I really don’t know what to do about it.

    My own mother was always very confident and outgoing, so I definitely think there is more of a nature than nurture argument (and my youngest daughter is also the opposite in that way). My mother used to try and push me out of my shell. In some ways this helped, as I probably did more things that with hindsight were interesting experiences, yet sometimes I think she did go a bit too far and just succeeded in making me creep back into it more. I’m trying to find the right balance with DD1.

  5. Jean Has Been Shopping May 28, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    It has to be enough. You give me hope that I can achieve this with my children as well.

  6. Crystal Jigsaw May 28, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    Unconditional love has to be enough, there is nothing as strong. You sound very much like me in many ways. I don’t do crowded places and never go to parties or events for fear of my lack of confidence.

    CJ xx

  7. Livi May 28, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    I’m quite shy and very insecure and my mother is not at all. She is over confident, loud and bolshy. I think it’s more likely that parents like my mother actually raise quieter kids because they are overshadowed by the parent. If the parent is quieter then the child has a chance to shine and develop.
    Every child is their own person though, some will be shy, some will be loud, some will be somewhere between the two. All you can do is love them and praise them, that’s all they need.

  8. Rosie Scribble May 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    I think people with low self-esteem can definitely bring up children who are confident and happy by showing them how much they are loved and valued which is what you are doing. I don’t think you need to worry too much. I’m careful that I don’t let me worries rub off on my daughter. Sometimes she picks up on it, but most of the time she is happy and she is growing in confidence all the time. I suppose if you know, to an extent, why you have low self-esteem, you can try and make things different for your children. It’s a difficult one but there are bonuses in being a sensitive person too because we pick up on things in others.

  9. Metajugglamum May 29, 2010 at 10:21 pm #

    Oof this is such a tough one, but it sounds like you are doing the best thing ever by acknowledging the issues and trying to combat them by doing the natural thing … loving your children in the only way a parent can and trying to give them the best start. Children are very sensitive to their parents’ insecurities but if they feel loved and safe themselves, they at least have the perfect foundation upon which to build. You can’t do more than that! You seem to be doing great! xx

  10. elleonthego May 30, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Both nature and nurture will define our children along with all the experiences they meet on the way.
    I was once a timid child,I certainly was never praised. I’m still shy but it doesn’t rule my life.
    Sometimes ,it will take just that little longer for me to do something, agreeing to do interviews being my worst nightmare !
    It took me 3 days to find the courage to enter a french writing contest and I was shaking like a leaf.
    I try to instil confidence in my children and praise them accordingly.We can only do our best, loving them and spending time with them being the most important gift you can give them.

  11. Deer Baby May 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    I wish I had the answer to this one. Just carry on what you’re doing with the praise and the encouragement and the unconditional love. That’s the key I think.

  12. Rosemary May 30, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    Yes you will. I did!

  13. bsouth May 30, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    Thank you. It means alot. Not just that you dedicated it, not just that you listened to me, but that you heard what I was saying.

    My greatest hope is that my children will be fantastically confident. My greatest fear is that they will grow up like me. I can only keep trying and keep telling them how fab they are.

    I’ve stopped shouting at them when they knock cups over.

    And by the way, I love your dress sense.

  14. peelingtheorange May 31, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    Kids, the best of my knowledge are like sponges. Not talking about any kid out there, just that happens to walk by us. To me is like kids living with us, and they would carry a little bit of anybody around. Spending time together is a way or maybe just by being there. I love when you said how you talk to them, I do not have my own children yet, but I picture the scene, and you are a warrior my friend. Running out of oil isn’t a good thing though. If You just could see honestly how wonderful every being is, how beautiful you really are, your eyes would grow bigger and bigger. You are love by God. That’s the gold, at the beginning or end of our days that’s the question. And the YES MY DEAR! coming from your heavenly Father, would always be enough bread to you to give and receive love. You deserve it my girl!!! WE all do.
    ~Great Love to you,
    Mirian from peelingtheorange.

  15. burblingbee June 13, 2010 at 8:51 pm #

    This is something I’ve been thinking about and discussing recently, it’s a real worry isn’t it.

    I have decided that it _can’t_ depend on what you are like as a parent – or we’d all be like our parents. My Mum and Dad are both super-confident in their own ways, and I’m not. I was always the shy one, and it’s only got worse.

    While I worry enormously that my daughter is often like me, maybe being shy actually gives more of an insight? A confident person may say ‘just do it, what are you afraid of?’ where a more anxious parent may be able to do the ‘yes, it does feel scary to think of doing X, why do you think that is? What do you think could happen? and so on.

    Masses of encouragement, masses of praise for doing the things that scare them, reinforcing that ‘I know you felt nervous, but you did it and it was OK wasn’t it’, sort of thing, and gentle pushing to try small new things.

    All of this doesn’t stop me worrying though!

  16. keatsbabe August 11, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    Thanks for signposting me to this via my blog. I really do understand how you are feeling and as you know I expressed similar fears in my blog post. But I always cling to the thought that children of the most confident parents sometimes end up feeling they are never good enough, and those who have deep rooted insecurities or depression and anxiety are often the most sensitive and thoughtful people. That can only be a good thing to transmit to your children surely? Take care x

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