Read an Excerpt
100 Ways to Build Self-Esteem and Teach Values
By Diana Loomans
H J Kramer and New World LibraryCopyright © 2003 Diana Loomans
All rights reserved.
Esteem Each Day
Self-esteem is like good nutrition — the more our children have it, the healthier and stronger they become. Chapter 1 offers ideas that will show you how to create a safe and loving environment, and help your child's self-esteem grow each day. One-minute love connections, esteem themes, a life celebrations book, and love notes will provide daily doses of self-esteem. Using reframing, empathy, everyday etiquette, and the gift of acknowledgment will plant the seeds of respect and harmony in the house.
The following list, "Ten Caring Ways to Connect with Children Each Day," offers practical steps that will help adults create an atmosphere where children can thrive. Use it as a guide as you help children to develop more esteem each day.
Ten Caring Ways to Connect with Children Each Day
1. Compassion: Honor all of your feelings, and listen with empathy to each other.
2. Clear Communication: Express your emotions simply, and speak from the heart together.
3. Creativity: Try new things, be playful, and invite the unexpected.
4. Consistency: Do what you say, and say what you mean each day.
5. Challenge: Approach problems with positive expectancy, and learn from the challenges.
6. Cheerfulness: Embrace the day with lightheartedness, and learn to enjoy life.
7. Confidence: Trust and believe in your own talents and in the abilities of others.
8. Calmness: Breathe and live from a calm center within yourself each day.
9. Clear Agreements: Create clear agreements and rules that everyone understands and feels good about.
10. Commitment: Be committed to being true to yourself and honest with others each day.
Cross My Heart and Hope to Fly! by Julia Loomans
When I was little, my mom and I used to have a lot of fun turning old ideas around and changing the meaning into something we enjoyed more. This was our way of turning old realities upside down. When we heard someone say, "I'm going to kill two birds with one stone," we changed it to "I'm going to feed two birds with one seed!" "What's the matter — cat got your tongue?" was transformed into "Are you dwelling deep in the silence?" That one always made us laugh! "Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today" turned into "Celebrate tomorrow what you will choose to do today!" "Be careful" became "Be full of care" and "Never give up!" was changed to "Ever look up."
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" became "A laugh a day brings health my way": I guess we decided that laughter was even more important than eating the apple. "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite" was changed to "Good night, sleep tight, a big hug and a kiss good night." I liked the thought of hugs a whole lot better than the thought of gruesome bugs under the bed! "Good God, it's morning" became "Good morning, God," which was easier to wake up to than a groan. We started calling "sunrise and sunset" "the morning tilt and the evening tilt," since it reminded us that we were the ones moving around the sun and not the reverse.
One night, when I was about eight years old, I wanted to tell my mom a secret wish of mine, but I wanted her to promise not to tell a soul. "Promise?" I asked her a couple of times. "Promise," she said, with her hand over her heart. "Cross your heart and hope to die?" I pleaded. "No," she said with a grin. "How about: 'Cross my heart and hope to ...'" Before she could finish, I blurted out the final word: "Fly! Cross my heart and hope to fly — yes! That's it," I told her. "That's my secret wish — to fly!"
My mom was surprised and said that it was "like finding two diamonds in the haystack." Not only did she guess my wish, but we changed an old phrase, too. Then she asked me to make her a promise. "Promise to follow your dreams," she said. "Promise?" she asked. "Cross my heart and hope to fly!" I replied.
Creating a Happy Home
Share ideas with your child on what a happy home is like, and act on some of those ideas more often.
In teaching parenting workshops, I have found that one of the most eye- opening activities has always been the Happy Home Interview. Parents go home and ask their children two simple questions: "What is a happy home like?" and "What makes our home feel good?" Consistently, parents come back amazed by the honesty and simplicity of the answers they receive from their children. The answers are usually about small, everyday things.
Children are messengers from a world we once deeply knew, but we have long since forgotten.
— Alice Miller
Almost never have children mentioned exotic trips, pools, large houses, or expensive clothes or toys. Instead, feeling good, encouragement, kindness, play, and connection with mom or dad are at the top of the list. Take the time to ask your child these two important questions. The answers may surprise you. Here are twenty-four ideas for creating a happy home, submitted by the children of parents from previous classes.
Twenty-Four Ideas about Creating a Happy Home
1. Hug More: "When I come home, my mom and dad hug me a lot. That's when my house feels happiest!" (Nora, age eight)
2. Create Special Moments: "My home is happy when my mom lights candles while we eat dinner." (Harvey, age ten)
3. Cook Together: "I like it when we cook something yummy together — like cookies or bread — and the house smells delicious!" (Robert, age nine)
4. Celebrate Art: "My house has a big refrigerator with kids' artwork and magnets all over it, and even some that fall off!" (Tobias, age five)
5. Express Affection: "I like it when Dad throws me up in the air and messes up my hair!" (Rebecca, age four)
Sing of love and leisure, for naught else is worth having.
— T. S. Eliot
6. Relax and Enjoy One Another: "We have lots of puppy piles — all of us lie all over each other on the couch and laugh a lot." (Katrina, age eight)
7. Share Special Time before Bed: "I like it when my mommy brushes my hair for a long time and sings songs to me before bed." (Beth, age four)
8. Play Games Together: "A home is happy when everybody has fun playing checkers or Monopoly and eats popcorn, too." (Jason, age thirteen)
9. Keep Good and Nutritious Food in the House: "My house feels good when there's lots of really good food to eat." (Merrill, age seven)
10. Play Together: "There's cool toys that moms and dads like to play with, too!" (Alexi, age ten)
11. Enjoy a Pet: "A happy house has creatures in it — a bird, gerbil, hamster, turtle, guinea pig, rat, fish, lizard, snake, dog, cat, or monkey. I've had all of them in my house, and, boy, does it smell! But in my house, it's okay." (Jerod, age ten)
12. Dance and Play Music Together: "In my house, when it's happy, there is music playing and we all dance together. My dad teaches us the cha-cha-cha!" (Amber, age eleven)
13. Appreciate One Another: "My mom sits and looks at me and smiles sometimes when my house is happy." (Kalenda, age four)
14. Listen to One Another: "Everybody listens to each other instead of yelling or screaming." (Samuel, age fourteen)
15. Remember the Extras: "A nice house has wind chimes hanging, and you can hear birds singing outside the win dow." (Tara, age five)
16. Pamper One Another: "Happy houses have big bubble baths for kids that they can stay in until all the bubbles are gone." (Lauren, age seven)
Fortunate are the people whose roots are deep.
— Agnes Meyer
17. Communicate Openly: "When people like each other in their house, they sit around for a while after dinner and talk about all kinds of stuff." (Amy, age thirteen)
18. Show Interest in One Another: "In a house that is happy, people ask you how your day was, and they really mean it!" (Lisa, age fifteen)
19. Share and Read Stories Together: "Happy people read books together and tell stories by the fire about neat things." (Morley, age twelve)
20. Wrestle Together: "Families that get along like to wrestle and giggle together!" (Bo, age eleven)
21. Keep Plants or Flowers in the House: "I like it when we have flowers on the table and the whole house smells good." (Jonah, age six)
22. Have Family and Friends Visit Often: "Our house is fun when everybody has friends over and there's lots of laughing going on!" (Abe, age sixteen)
23. Acknowledge One Another: "Everyone compliments each other and does special things for each other." (Shanti, age fourteen)
24. Create a Friendly and Safe Environment: "When I'm gone, I can't wait to get home because I just like being there!" (Carlos, age twelve)
Consider "interviewing" your child on what he or she thinks makes a home happy. Ask for at least ten ideas, and then surprise your child with them, one by one.
I have a simple philosophy. Fill what's empty. Empty what's full, and scratch where it itches.
— Alice Roosevelt Longworth
I asked Julia when she was ten years old to write down some ideas about what made her home feel good. Ironically, one of her answers was, "When my mom is doing some of the neat stuff that she tells other parents to do with their kids. That's when my home is happy!" Out of the mouths of babes come words of wisdom!
One-Minute Love Connections
Create meaningful moments with your child a few times a day with one-minute connections that build self-esteem and offer reassurance in the midst of a busy schedule.
As a busy parent, I have found that one-minute connections have become a vital part of my relationship with my child. The one-minute love connection is a time to pause, be in the moment, and connect with your child from the heart.
The best inheritance a parent can give to his or her children is a few minutes of time each day.
— O. A. Battista
Although short in duration, one-minute love connections have a threefold purpose — to build confidence, to offer acknowledgment, and to reassure your child that you are connected even when the day is busy. Here are a few ideas you might want to adopt into your one-minute connections.
Nine Ways to Make One-Minute Love Connections
1. The Extra Long Look: Take a deep breath, and look at your child for a full minute with a smile or a look of appreciation on your face. Every child has a need to be seen and appreciated each day.
2. The Big Snuggle: You'll be surprised how good your child will feel if you take a ten-second hug and extend it to a full minute. That extra fifty seconds will give your child the kinesthetic reassurance that "I am lovable!"
3. Love Phrases: Stop all activity and thought, look directly into your child's eyes, and say, "I love you more each day," or "You're wonderful!" Even if some of your phrases are repeated often, if spoken from the heart, they will be music to your child's ears.
4. Creative Gestures: Since up to 85 percent of all children are visual learners first, don't underestimate the power of gestures. I have gestured "I love you" to Julia in sign language on my way out the door often over the years. This never fails to bring a smile. A friend of ours pinches her own cheek, squints her eyes, and waves good-bye to her now seventeen-year-old son. It's her silent way of saying, "You're adorable," and it still gets a giggle from him.
The cleanest bath a child can have is an esteem bath!
— Rubber Duckie
5. The Tender Touch: A father of three children has a habit of cupping his hand on the cheeks of his children or holding their hands while stooping down to hold eye contact with them when he gives them a compliment. These children are very connected with their father.
6. Silly Connections: Julia and I have a few imaginary characters we like to act out. One of our favorites is Baby Boop. I walk funny, talk funny, and say something in garble to Julia, such as "You sure rar a ruvable rirl!" A father-son team has a "get a grip" handshake that involves hilarious hand movements, claps, a hip gesture, and a quick twirl, followed by a final high-five gesture.
7. Esteem Builders: I often use one-minute connections with Julia to give her affirmations. A big hug, along with saying, "I love your playfulness," or "Your brilliance is amazing," is like a short esteem bath for her.
8. The Empathic Connection: When there isn't time for a longer connection and your child is in need, giving one minute of empathy can be soothing and healing. For example, saying, "It sounds like you will need longer than you thought for your homework. I can see that you are feeling frustrated about that," can be reassuring.
9. Friendly Messages: When you can't be there for an in- person connection, a friendly note or phone message after school or in the evening can be a great substitute.
Creating a few one-minute love connections with your child will only take several minutes, but the seeds planted will reap a rich harvest in your relationship.
Empathy Each Day
Practice the art of listening with empathy and communicating with compassion, and let children know that their feelings and needs are important.
A four-year-old boy was having a tantrum on a crowded elevator as his embarrassed mother reprimanded him by saying, "Stop that ridiculous whining and act like a big boy. You're disturbing everybody!" This just caused him to bellow out his shrill cry even louder, as the adults on the elevator fidgeted and rolled their eyes, waiting impatiently to reach their floors. The child began to sway from side to side and screamed out, "No, no ... get me out of here, Mommy ... now!" The tension mounted as his frustrated mother reached out to give her crying child a swat on the behind. At that very moment, an elderly gentleman crouched down and looked into the boy's eyes. "You don't like this elevator; it doesn't give you much room to move, does it?" he said to the boy with empathy.
When it comes to kindness, any size will do.
— Emma Carin
The boy stopped abruptly and put his hands over his face. Peeking through his fingers, he said coyly, "No, and my bear doesn't like it either." He held up his worn-out teddy bear for the man to examine. "The bear doesn't like the elevator either?" the man asked attentively. "No ... people get hurt on elevators," was his reply. His mother smiled at the man and said, "He's been watching a lot of television," and went on to explain that he had recently witnessed a violent scene in a movie that took place in an elevator. As they reached their floor, the gentle old man reached out to touch the young boy's hand. "Movies can be frightening sometimes," he said, shaking the small hand. The little boy let out a sigh and said, "Yeah, they sure can!" After the elevator doors closed, he waved to the man and held up his bear. As the doors closed, the man turned to me and said, "The boy was frightened, that's all. He just needed someone to know that." He walked off the elevator, and I realized that I'd missed my floor.
One of the most valuable things we can do to heal one another is listen to each other's stories.
— Rebecca Falls
Instead, I'd just witnessed an example of the healing power of empathy. All too often, parents have been taught to reprimand their children or to offer sympathy rather than empathy in a moment of need. Although sympathy appears to be supportive, it actually encourages children to feel like victims rather than providing comfort or connection. I went to a party at a friend's house recently and found her six-year-old daughter Janice lying on the floor near the front door, wailing, "But I really wanted to go to my friend Alison's today. She's waiting for me. I don't wanna stay home with the company!" Her mother's sympathetic response was, "Poor baby, she has to stay home all by herself!" She was trying to comfort her child with a dose of sympathy, but her daughter continued to cry even louder. If Janice were being raised in another nonempathic home, she might have been reprimanded rather than receiving sympathy — an equally ineffective response. Here are a few possible scenarios.
Six Common Nonempathic Responses to Children
1. Shaming: "Stop that ridiculous fussing! Do you want our company to think that you are a baby?" (Result: The child is judged and labeled and may feel anger or shame.)
2. Discounting: "There's nothing to be sad about. You're blowing this way out of proportion. Dry those tears right now." (Result: The child's feelings are discounted, and the child is likely to feel frustrated, angry, or doubt his or her own feelings and reality.)
3. Distracting: "Come on, let's go play with the dog until the company arrives." (Result: The child is distracted and may feel frustrated or confused.)
4. Bargaining: "If you're polite while the company is here, I'll take you for some ice cream later." (Result: The child is likely to feel confused or frustrated.)
5. Threatening: "I'll give you something to really cry about if you don't stop that nonsense!" (Result: The child is threatened with violence, and most likely feels scared or angry.)
6. Shunning: "Go to your room and stay there. I don't want to talk to you or see you when you act this way." (Result: The child is isolated and may feel lonely, scared, or sad.)
To resolve conflict, you need to create a safe space. A safe space is one in which you feel free to share your vulnerabilities, knowing you won't be judged, attacked or reacted to.
— Danaan Parry
Excerpted from 100 Ways to Build Self-Esteem and Teach Values by Diana Loomans. Copyright © 2003 Diana Loomans. Excerpted by permission of H J Kramer and New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.