Self-Esteem Versus Self-Worth

Is there a difference between self-esteem and self-worth? You bet there is! Most people use these two interchangeably, yet they are hugely different. We usually speak more about self-esteem, and the importance of making sure our children feel good about themselves, than we do self-worth. If you’ve never thought about this, you might be asking, what is the difference?

Self-worth is about being, or who we are; while self-esteem is about doing, or what we do.

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Self-worth is a core belief in myself. It doesn’t change and is much deeper than self-esteem. The beginnings of self-worth are rooted in… are you ready for this… our experiences in childhood. During the first year of life, a baby learns if they cry, and someone listens to that cry and meets their needs, they feel important. A stronger self emerges. This means pressure, dear parents, to get this right during the formative years!

This confirms that the parent-child relationship is extremely important! Later on, peers become the primary influence, which is all the more reason for us to be intentional early on. We surely want them to be more influenced by us than their peers. Agree?

We are able to make statements like this, if we have a strong sense of self:

I am of value, simply because God created me.
I believe in myself.
I am loveable.
I am capable.
I can make a difference.
I am enough.
I am competent, even when I mess up.

Self-esteem is what I think, feel and believe about myself. It can change in a moment and is dependent on our accomplishments and performances. See if this resonates. You are feeling fairly confident about your parenting abilities until your parents and in-laws give you their unsolicited opinion about how they think you should be parenting. Wham! In a flash, you feel totally inept and begin to second-guess yourself.

How to foster your child’s healthy self-worth:

  • Respect their feelings and opinions
  • Encourage them
  • Let them fail
  • Let them make decisions whenever possible
  • Love them unconditionally

We want to be the biggest encourager they have ever encountered! This means giving them kudos from time to time. Saying things like “good work” is better than no praise, but what is most important is giving them credit for the process, “you knew just how to manage your time so you would be finished with your project by the due date.”

Kids need to fail, and we need to allow it. As hard as this is to watch, be reminded failure contributes to a healthy sense of self.

They need to be adept at problem solving, so let them make decisions whenever possible. This means to refrain from telling them what to do, or how to do it. The message this sends to them is you have confidence in their ability to come up with the solution that’s right for them. Talk about a confidence booster!

Respect them enough to let them share their views and opinions even though they might be different from yours. Ask them what their thoughts are on certain things. This is particularly true with teens.

Give them your time and undivided attention in some way each day. You don’t need to spend money to do this. Play with your young children, go get a coke with your teen or spend one-on-one time together before bed.

We know the way we feel about ourselves affects the way we live our lives – specifically, how we act, how we treat others and even the decisions we make. All the more reason to be mindful about helping our children embrace the fact that they matter!

 
There’s Always Hope,

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Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more.

Chores: The Great Debate

I’m not going to lie. When the girls were growing up, there were some days it was just easier and faster for me to do their chores for them.

Have you ever been guilty of this? Most parents I know have. Some parents cave in to avoid confrontation while others don’t have the energy, patience or time to hold their children accountable. I also know plenty of parents that don’t want to inconvenience or impose on their already over scheduled kids.

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None of these are good options because chores are, or should be, a necessary part of growing up.

Benefits:

Responsibility – holding children accountable for chores can increase their self-worth because they will feel good when they meet their obligations.

Life skills – cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of a pet and yard work are all skills they will need when they leave your home.

Hard work – life requires work… house work, school work, job work, etc. Chores provide the training ground for these essential life skills.

Here’s what you can do:

Model positive behaviors. If you whine about doing the laundry or mowing the yard, your children are more likely to complain about cleaning up their rooms.

Be patient. If you tell your son to put away his video games before dinnertime, then don’t complain if he hasn’t started the task by mid-afternoon. Give him the opportunity to complete the request without begging, pleading or nagging.

Compliment cooperation. Acknowledge when your child completes a task—even if the toys aren’t on the right shelves. You’ll get more cooperation if you refrain from criticism.

Start young and start small. A one-year-old can start age-appropriate chores, such as picking up books and blocks. And it’s okay for you to help them! Make it fun. “I’ll put my block in here, now it’s your turn. My book goes right here, yours goes next to mine.” By the time our children are six or seven, they should be able to do their chores unassisted.

What is the state of the parent-child relationship? Keep in mind that kids want to please but the connection has to be there. Also, they will be more apt to embrace your values regarding chores as well as your work ethic if the parent-child relationship is strong.

What if?

The ever-present question from parents is “What if they don’t do their chores? What consequence should I give them?” I don’t believe there always needs to be a consequence, especially if they are younger. Remember, you are training and teaching them—be positive and supportive and work alongside them until they are done. Yes, this does take more of your time, but if you can put in the hard work and training at the front end, the ultimate result will be that as they grow up, you should be able to say it’s time to do your chores and they will be able to do just that.

For older kiddos and teens, yes, a consequence might be in order. When they complete their chores then they can go out with friends. Say “feel free to go to Haley’s house when your chores are done.” This teaches him to govern himself and enables you to parent in a positive way. The more negative approach goes like this “No, you can’t go to Haley’s. I’ve told you a hundred times you have chores to do. You always wait until the last minute and you’ve known all along what you were supposed to be doing.” This kind of reaction doesn’t encourage cooperation.

Of this one thing I am certain: Your children will not thank you for insisting they do their chores while they still live in your home. Hopefully, they will thank you someday… after they are living on their own.

 
There’s Always Hope,

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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Mealtime: Take the Focus Off the Food

How many meals do you and your family enjoy together each week?

Being together at mealtime can be one of the threads that holds the fabric of a family together. Relationships, specifically family relationships, are at the core of a satisfying life, and sitting down together at least once a day with your family gives everyone time to relax, talk, listen, laugh and find love and understanding. Children have an opportunity to talk about what is on their mind and receive support from parents and siblings. Everyone can engage and the whole family can leave the table feeling satisfied and refreshed.

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What is mealtime like at your house? It can be enjoyable and satisfying or dreadful and stressful. Oftentimes, food can become the focus, and then a big battle ignites! We all want our kids to eat well, but we cannot make a child eat. I was reminded of this again –just today actually. Wilson is nearly one now and he politely pushed my hand away when I tried to feed him yogurt. He did not want yogurt. He wanted blueberries. Wise parents know that trying to force a child to eat can cause problems. Some parents resort to bribes or threats. It is best to focus on things we can control like what we prepare, how much to serve and when to serve it. Food should not become a battle. If they don’t want to eat, that’s their choice. Let them be in control of that. Be sure to let them know if they choose not to eat, that’s fine with you but there will be nothing more until the next meal. They will not starve!

Benefits of eating together as a family:

Better grades Higher self-esteem
Expanded vocabulary
Greater social skills
Fewer behavioral problems
Connection to the family unit

Guidelines to consider:

Unplug – turn off all electronics
Make good manners a part of the ritual
Be attentive and listen
Be respectful to each other
Keep loaded discussions for a later time
Let kids help with the cooking, setting the table and clearing the table
No nagging and lecturing

Make mealtimes a priority, yet be flexible with everyone’s schedule. The family meal doesn’t have to be dinner, and even an occasional family meal is better than none at all. If your family doesn’t currently do mealtimes together, why not consider working one or two into your schedule soon – despite soccer games, baseball practice, piano lessons, dance class, meetings and everything else that gets in the way of this important time.

Remember that food is not the only nourishment that kids get from dinner. They get emotional nourishment just by sitting together with their loved ones. This is good for the soul of family life.
 

There’s Always Hope,

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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Ask Amy: My Child Hates Me!

“My 6 year old told me recently he hated me and he wished he had a different Mother. I couldn’t believe it! It hurt my feelings and at the same time made me furious. I told him that was disrespectful and he was not allowed to talk to me that way. I then sent him to his room. I don’t know if that was the best thing to do. What should I do if it happens again?”

PWA Sept Ask Amy

It is hard to hear a remark like this from someone we’ve invested so much into for the last 6 years, isn’t it? You will probably hear it again, so let’s come up with a plan.

Rest assured that most young kids I know that say things like this do not really mean it! It usually comes on the heels of them not getting something they want or things not going their way. In other words, they are mad when we say no! The bottom line is they haven’t learned how to use their words to let us know they are feeling angry.

Here’s what we should do.

Acknowledge the fact that they are mad, give them permission to feel that way and then teach them to use their words appropriately.

The next time you hear “I hate you,” respond by saying “I think you’re trying to tell me you are mad because I said no. I want you to know it’s ok that you’re mad and you can always say, Mommy, I’m mad at you because you won’t let me buy this toy”.

You are modeling for him what you want him to do the next time he’s upset with you. That’s addressing the real issue, which is his anger.

Getting angry with him, telling him to stop talking to you like that, sending him to his room, making him apologize to you are all things that further ignite his anger.

Let me know if this helps!

There’s Always Hope,

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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

The Battle For Power

When I hear a parent say “she argues with me about everything,” I immediately start to wonder is it Mom or Dad that is controlling and likes to hold the power. You see, I have yet to meet a power hungry kid without at least one power hungry parent.

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We all need to feel powerful and have some control in our lives and our children are no exception. When we don’t give them any control, or even if they have control but don’t perceive they do, they begin to fight for it and power struggles ensue.

We usually begin to see kids fighting for power and independence around 2 years of age. This is healthy and normal and what they are supposed to be doing at this stage in their development. If we know and accept that and learn how to handle ourselves appropriately, then we can better help them manage themselves. The more we can give them developmentally appropriate ways to be in control and feel powerful, the less power struggles we are going to have.

Contrary to what some parents believe, when we argue with our children, we abdicate our role as parents and put our kids in control. This is way too much power for them and they can’t handle it emotionally. They become angry, resentful and overwhelmed and their behavior escalates. Parents feel the same emotions, and now everyone is in a bad place.

So, what’s the secret you say? You are. Yes, you. You hold the power!

Here’s what to do:

  • Just stop it. Bow out. Do not engage. Doesn’t that sound easy? In theory it is, however, practical application proves different.
  • Give them choices. Only give two options and make certain they are both acceptable with you.
  • Pick your battles. We know this but it’s so hard to pull off. Is it really necessary to engage about whether she should put on her coat? No. After you suggest it, and she resists, let it go. Trust that she will come back for the coat when she gets cold enough.
  • Make sure the parent-child relationship is solid. When they feel disconnected from us, they behave much worse. Take time to do a little nurturing if they are fighting for control.

If you can be mindful of these suggestions and implement them, I’ll just bet you will not encounter as many battles as you normally do. It’s sure worth a try!

There’s Always Hope,

PWA_sig_amy

 

 

 

Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Back to School – Tips for An Easy Transition!

It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of year again! The lazy, hazy days of summer are coming to an end and a new school year is dawning.

For moms and dads, this is often a happy time as they are weary after having the kids at home all summer. Most kids, however, are usually not happy about the end of their summer fun. The beginning of a new year can be a hard adjustment for some kiddos or a simple transition for others.

Getting back into a school routine or at least a more consistent one is tough, but can sure make a difference in the way your child adjusts to the new year. Soon, the nights of staying up a little later, sleeping in a bit longer and all manner of summer fun will be a thing of the past. Here a some ways to make the transition easier:

  • Consider easing back into your school routine by beginning about two to three weeks before school kicks off.
  • Gradually begin to tweak your bedtime schedule so that everyone is getting to bed earlier. Equally as important is waking up earlier in the mornings.
  • Teach them to be organized and make decisions about their clothes the night before. This translates to less stress in the mornings.
  • Give them opportunities to be independent and responsible. Set them up for success by giving them responsibilities at home so they can experience what it is like. For example, you might make it their responsibility to pack their backpacks and lunchbox.
  • If a new school is on the horizon this year, a peek inside might help allay any anxiety your child is having. Go to the building and let them see where they will be going each day.
  • Implement a daily homework routine. Whether that is immediately after school, after their snack and a little downtime, or even after dinner for teens, having a set time established helps everybody.
  • Prepare them for the separation from you, particularly if this is their first year to attend school or if you have an anxious child. Let them know what the morning drop off will look like. Be specific. “I’ll be able to walk you into your classroom the first week of school and after that, I’ll drop you off in the carpool line.”
  • We set the tone for the family. Get enough rest and get up early enough so that you aren’t rushed. Allow time for the unexpected.

Kids take their cues from us. If we are excited about the new year and happy with their teacher, chances are they will be too. If we’re anxious and worried that they might not be in the class with their best friend, worried that they might get lost trying to get to their classes on time with all of their materials or unhappy because they didn’t get the teacher we wanted, they will probably unhappy be too.

Hoping your family gets an A+ on this transition into another year of school!

Ask Amy: Screen Time

Q: How do I decide how much screen time is appropriate?

A: That varies from family to family. Just yesterday, I met with a Mom that gives her kids 30 minutes, 3 times a day – only because it’s summer. During the school year, it is 30 minutes after school and an hour a day on the weekends. I spoke with another family last week that allows it on the weekends only, and yet another family that doesn’t have any specific time constraints with their kiddos. As you can see, there are many different opinions here.

Parenting With Amy

It depends on your child too. Some children can’t handle much before their behavior changes, while others can. Older kids and teens probably need more time than younger ones. I’m not a fan of electronics in their bedrooms, nor do I think it’s a good idea at bedtime. Electronics used as a babysitter is not advocated either.

When I speak of screen time, I’m including all of it…TV, computer, iPad, iPhone, gaming devices and the like. I encourage you to think about the adverse effects of being so immersed in the electronic world. Research is showing us that children with too much screen time are not as socially adept, have more behavioral problems, sleep difficulties, obesity and aggressive tendencies, to name a few. I’m seeing more and more kids that have difficulty with reciprocal conversation and the ability to make eye contact. They do not get to practice these important social skills when they are connected electronically. We know, for development, children need to and should be playing, being creative, experimenting and being relational. This is how they learn.

Media is part of our culture. Let’s help our kids make good decisions about it.

There’s Hope For The Yellers!

HURRY UP!” or “HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU?” Do either of those sound familiar?

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I don’t think any of us ever plan to yell at our children, but the reality is most of us do. Some of us yell a lot, and some of us yell occasionally. If you grew up in a home of yellers, most likely you’re a yeller too.

We tend to think that we need to get louder for our kids to hear us. Actually the opposite is true. The louder we get, the less they hear. And besides that, nobody likes to be yelled at.

Yelling at kids:

  • disconnects us from them
  • scares them
  • teaches them it is ok to yell
  • teaches them they don’t have to comply until we yell
  • creates tension and stress in your home
  • makes them the target for your anger

If you’re ready to change the trajectory of your family, you can! It is not an easy habit to break, but it can be done with great diligence. To do this, the focus is on you, not your kids. It is not our kids that make us yell, contrary to what many parents believe. It is all about us – our behavior and the choices we make in the moment. Self-control is the key.

Alternatives to consider:

  • Catch yourself, and identify your triggers. (Are you tired, mad, or stressed?)
  • Take five. Tell your kids that you are feeling frustrated, and you will be back in five minutes to start over.
  • Apologize and ask them for forgiveness. Tell them you are working hard to break this habit.

Benefits:

  • The tenor in your home will change.
  • Your child’s attitude toward you will change.
  • You’ll be a happier person.

This habit does not change overnight. Take one day at a time and even consider enlisting someone to help hold you accountable.

I’m willing to bet your kids will thank you for it one day.

There’s Always Hope,

PWA_sig_amy

 

 

 

Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Family Spotlight: Jennifer Milner

My grandmother once told me that, in parenting, there are only two things you need to say to your child.

Two things. That doesn’t seem hard, does it? Just two things, and you’re a great parent? I was eager for a pencil and paper and could see myself in the future as a new mom: Did I say the “two things”? Check! Cross “parenting” off the list!

But the problem, my grandmother told me, isn’t that people don’t say two things to their kids; it’s that most people say the wrong two things to their kids.

Most people, she explained, say, “Here’s who I think you are,” and “Here’s what I am going to do for you,” when what a parent should say to his child is “Who are you?” and “What do you need from me?”.

I often come at my children with pre-conceived notions about how a conversation is going to go, or what they’re going to need from me that day, and I continue to be surprised at my surprise when those notions are turned on their heads! I remember when my second daughter began to eat solid foods, and I eagerly introduced her to all the foods her older sister had loved so much as an infant. I was shocked when my little one didn’t like avocado, and I can even remember saying to the messy, crying little six-month-old in a bewildered voice, “but your sister LOVED avocado as a baby!”

That was the first time I realized that my younger daughter was, um, a completely different person than my older daughter, and that all my expectations of how it “should” go were about to be dashed. My youngest wasn’t a sequel to a hit novel – she was a blank page waiting to be filled; an undiscovered country begging to be explored.

My oldest is now ten and my younger daughter, eight. I have learned over the years that I parent best when I don’t try to come in as the expert on Who They Are, or with a problem preemptively diagnosed, and the prescription already written; instead, I’m the most useful to them when I try to reverse engineer the situation. What is the problem (who are you?) and if I can picture the desired solution, then how can I work backwards from that to figure out how to get to A from Z (what do you need from me)?

This past fall, we went through a “valley” time in family life – lots of sibling squabbling, door-slamming, disrespectfulness, and more. Their bad attitudes were wearing on the whole family, and our usual discipline methods were not cutting it. So I tried to work backwards through the issue.

The problem – a lack of respect for other family members, and a lack of self-control when dealing with anger and frustration. Rather than heaping consequences on each child for bad behavior, I wanted to encourage good behavior and good choices. But how to do that without outright bribing the girls?

We ended up handing each child a big stack – and they were fairly big – of one dollar bills. “This,” we said to them, “is yours to spend on the family in two weeks, any way you want. We’ll go bowling, or to the movies, or ice skating – you name it. Start planning it now, and we’ll look forward to it!”

Both girls lit up.

“But here’s the catch,” we continued. “Every time you slam a door, speak disrespectfully, are mean to your sister, and so on, we will take a dollar out of that stack. So your behavior over the next two weeks is going to determine whether or not we go for a night at the movies or we all split a single cone at Braum’s.”Their actions, we explained lovingly, have real consequences on the whole family. When one of them acts out, the whole family suffers, and we wanted them to see that in a very real way.

At the end of the two weeks, each girl had nearly all her money left. (Yeah, I was shocked too!) They worked hard, and you could see that as their outward choices changed, their hearts softened as well. Patience grew, and disrespect shrank. One girl took us ice skating and out for cookies, and the other treated us to a family movie day. And on each girl’s “special” day, she was beaming with pride the entire time, bursting with joy at providing such fantastic quality family time. We made sure to praise her throughout the day, saying “Thank you for the choices you’ve made over the past two weeks. It’s because of your patience and grace and kindness that we are able to have this great family time together!”

It’s so easy to stop checking in, I know. When I’m busy and rushed, I fall back on what I think I know of my girls. I forget they’re constantly changing, constantly growing, and I need to continuously look at them and ask them those two questions: Who are you, right now? And what do you need from me, right now?

I don’t always find the answers the same way. Sometimes the girls will tell me themselves; sometimes I find the answer after much quiet reflection; and sometimes I turn to an expert like Amy to help me figure out the reply to those questions. I’ll be the first one to tell you I don’t have all the answers.

But I never stop asking, and it has absolutely shaped who I am as a parent.

Jennifer Milner

Ask Amy: Solutions to Summertime Boredom!

In this edition of “Ask Amy”, our reader asks what she can do to keep her little one busy during summer vacation.

Amy gives several great solutions to the age-old summertime boredom. As parents, it isn’t our job to be the entertainer all time. We can actually create an unhealthy dependance in our children by always providing activities. Listen to these create tips to help develop creative thought and imagination in your kids. For more great parenting tips, go to: www.parentingwithamy.com.

If you have a parenting question, let us know!

There’s Always Hope,

Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more!