I think one of the hardest things for mothers to do is teach our kids things that we’re still learning ourselves. For me, that’s confidence and body positivity. I have to imagine I’m not the only one.
A Mom's Perspective
Time for honesty. Growing up, I was overweight and often made fun of for how I looked. As much as I’ve learned to take care of my body, eat well and exercise, I still hold on to a lot of those experiences and find that I still view myself as “the fat kid.” I see a picture of myself and immediately spot my biggest insecurities. I’ve made a lot of progress over the years, but I still struggle with confidence, specifically when it comes to body positivity.
These experiences are very personal, but after having kids it became much bigger than my own struggles with confidence. I wanted my kids to grow up feeling confident and secure with themselves. But how do we, as moms, teach our kids things that we’re still struggling to understand and achieve ourselves? It’s something I’m definitely still working on, but here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:
Tips for Building Your Kids' Confidence
1. Give Your Kids the Chance to Learn for Themselves
This one starts EARLY on in parenting, and it can be difficult – especially for first-time mothers. You want to give your kids everything, and you want to make sure they never get hurt. Those two desires lead to us moms doing a lot for our kids. And that’s great! But over the years, I’ve noticed my kids learn a lot more from the things I don’t do for them – things they have to figure out for themselves – that the things I do do for them. Sure, they get frustrated and struggle a bit, but in the end, they are proud of themselves! Because of this realization, I’ve shifted my focus from doing things for them to doing things with them (and sometimes leaving them to their own devices entirely), to help them be independent and confident in their own abilities.
2. Be Honest with Your Own Struggles
Nobody's perfect. And while I don’t tell my kids everything about my own struggles with mental health and body positivity (I don’t want it to weigh on them), I also don’t act like I have things perfectly put together! I’m honest with them when I’m having a bad day or not feeling my best. That way, when they’re feeling down, they know it’s okay to feel that way, and they’re comfortable expressing it.
3. Be Positive and Encouraging!
The whole idea of “treat others how you want to be treated” – that’s not just a golden rule in school. It actually applies really well to parenting! When one of my kids comes to me with a problem, I try to think about what I would want to hear in that situation. Most of the time, that means my response is positive and encouraging, which helps build my kids’ confidence in themselves to handle whatever they are going through. This method helps me, too – it has helped me stop stressing about the “right” thing to say as a mother, and it helps me relate to my kids on a deeper level. We all have our own struggles, and it just takes one understanding person to shed some positive light on the situation and help us feel like we can conquer the world. Kids are no different than adults in that regard.