A guest post by Skye Munro of Nurturing Connections
Recently I had the privilege of sharing my passion for connected parenting with over 200 Early Childhood professionals. But right until they entered the room I was plagued with a case of the ‘What if’s”…
- What if I forget what I want to say?
- What if I’m not clear?
- What if they find me boring?
Which all boils down to the one big ‘What if’:
- What if I'm not good enough?
“What if I'm Not Good?” Enough Starts Young
This feeling of ‘not being good enough’ starts seeding into our existence from a very young age and very early it becomes internalized.
Have you ever heard the saying that small children are like sponges? It’s true.
Children soak up life around them as they try to learn and understand their world. They are impressionable. Sponge-like. And they can pick up on negative as well as positive messages.
Since the most important thing to them is gaining love and connection, they soon notice when that love is present – in a happy face gazing down at them, or a moment snuggled in close.
And, in search of more of this warmth they soon focus on activities that will hopefully elicit similar responses:
“Hmmmn. When Mom is happy, she will play with us,” they might think.
Soon, they will adopt behaviors in a bid to bring out this ‘Happy Mom’ that wants to play.
Internally, the thought process runs something like this: “If I do this Mom will be happy and she will play with me.”
Blues Set In…
But then children start to notice how many mistakes they make. How a mess up can result in a less than happy mom. These feelings are yucky. Unwanted. And yet, they seem to happen time and time again.
As children start comparing these different experiences, ideas get cemented into their systems. Pretty soon that thought process sounds a little like this:
“Why did I do that?”
“Why can’t I ever get it right?”
And soon: “I am not good enough, or powerful enough, or worthy.”
A backlog that begins in childhood, builds and stays with us long after we are grown.
Replace Those Thoughts
Here’s some good news! We, as caregivers, can make it so that our children can feel good enough, so that they can confront and conquer their fears without too much turmoil. Here are four habits that capitalise on children’s need for warm connection guaranteed to keep self esteem high.
We can set aside a special time just for them to be with us that shows them how much we love spending time in their company, and we can thank them for that time afterwards.
Cruise through Mistakes
We can help support them through life's disappointments, letting them know that we all make mistakes, and that they are a chance to start again.
We can really listen to them. We can be the soundboard for their hopes and dreams, and their support as they reach for them. We can listen when they’ve argued, when they are upset and we can sympathise with their injustices.
Give Them Power
We can help them feel powerful through power reversal games. You lose the race, you get tagged, and you blunder around.
Don't let the simplicity of this advice fool you. Repeated enough time through the weeks and months, children’s inner dialogue will be much more positive and their emotional “cups” will be full.
How About You?
It’s hard to focus connection on them if you still have your own backlog to clear –and especially if your ‘What if’ is, “What if I’m not a good mom?”
This ‘What if I'm not good enough’ fear is something most of us humans still deal with at one point or another. The ‘fight the fear and just do it’ approach I used for my presentation is one way to get through, and in some cases helps us prepare well, but having someone listen to your fears and worries is another. Sharing whatever is nagging at you can get things moving, so you work through them.
And, by the way, know that just by reading this you definitely are MORE than good enough.
You are the best!
Find more information on the power of Listening here
Learn how even five minutes of Special Time can help with this booklet
Skye Munro is a Certified Hand in Hand Parenting by Connection instructor in Victoria, Australia. Skye is the mother of a son and a daughter and has 15 years experience as a Child Services Educator. You can connect with Skye on her Facebook page.