Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Self Image has to Come from Within


Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Self image... By the very name of it, it isn't about what others think or tell you... it is your own self image. Our children's own self image. It is such a worrisome topic! I don't want anything to discourage a healthy self image in my children. At the same time, I don't want it to be a fragile thing. My children hear my husband tease me about physical traits, hearing loss, age, you name it. But they also hear him compliment me all the time. They hear me laugh along with the teasing and tease right back.

What can we actively do to encourage a healthy self image? I try to set my kids up for success, for starters. I set them up with tasks or experiences that I know they can tackle with success. I comment when they accomplish things. It doesn't have to be a compliment, though. I don't want their self image to be reliant on outside opinions - that isn't self image. I spent too many years relying on someone else's opinion of me for my "self worth."

I also encourage my kids' individuality. In the past year, my teenager has asked to cut her own hair. I gave it some thought... why not let her? She understood that if she hated it, it was hers to grow back. She has cut her hair two or three times now. I've let her color it however she wanted. She often goes out in costume and / or wearing face paint. I can imagine how my family would have treated me if I had done the same. I protect them from any negative comments from them myself. I hope that by encouraging rather than stifling her, she is developing a strong, healthy self image.

I encourage my teenager to follow her interests, too. I want her to believe that whatever drives her is worth her time and attention. I also express my own interest in what interests my children.

I am honest with my children about my own features I don't like. I also take great pride in the things I like about myself! I don't dwell upon the negatives. I exhibit a comfort in my own skin. (I am, after all, practically a nudist.)

I don't know if all this is going to instill in them the strengths I want them to have, but a mother can only do her best and hope for the best.

How do you instill a healthy self-image in your children?


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She'll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she's hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it's pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate's love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they'll respect their own and others'.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children's self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she's trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama's Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, "I'm not beautiful." And while it's hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child's lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today's society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can't give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don't You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma's baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter's clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she's in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry's choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
  • Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she's perfect just the way she is.

11 comments:

  1. Great post! I completely agree with it all. I love your point about allowing children to do as they wish with their own bodies when it comes to cutting hair and suchlike. That's exactly what I plan to do too.

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  2. I love the fact that you're allowing your teenager to be who she is! I'm sure the unconditional acceptance you are showing her will strength her self image and your relationship with her for the rest of her life. Awesome job mama!

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  3. Enjoyed reading this Jorje. Your children are lucky to have you as their Mama!

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  4. You rock for letting your teen be her own person - for loving her exactly how she is. I hope that it instills a great confidence (and self-image) in her!

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  5. I don't need to know how to teach my children to have a good self image (or good body image) as much as I need to teach myself! My kids have even gotten to the age where they ask why *I* don't have a good self image when I've raised all of them to have one... I just say, "Well, I wasn't raised in this family..."

    As you know, I'm pretty encouraging of my kids uniqueness/hobbies, etc. I think its the greatest thing we can do for them. My mom was very good about that (which is probably why I've always been happy to go against the grain and follow my creative heart)... but boy I wish I had the body image thing tackled.

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  6. I love the way you describe "setting your kids up for success".... And the way you allow your teenager to be herself. Why the heck not? I truly believe you'll have less rebellion as she goes on. What's there to rebel about?

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  7. Great post! I totally agree that a great way to encourage a positive self-image is to set our children up for success and to point out when they succeed :)

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  8. You are a fantastic mama letting your teenager be who she wants to be! And I love how she does what she wants - such confidence that I wish I had at the same age. I remember my mother saying "You don't want that do you?" when I wanted to spike my hair or colour it, or wear something different or try something different. What could I say?

    I try to let my girls do, be and wear what they want. Funnily enough, my mother now praises her granddaughters for being confident and unique. On the school playground a mother or two has commented to me about my 5 year old, or even to her about her fashion choices (not in a positive way) and I am so proud that she now responds, "It's my personal style." Definitely a confidence that I never had.

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  9. I was just saying to Sam how cool it was that Tyler goes out in costume. Who wouldn't want to see a humanoid cat at the zoo? :)

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  10. I stopped and took a pause when I read that you purposefully set your children up to do tasks that you believe they will complete with success. And then I read this again just to make sure it would penetrate.
    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to think about your strategy for helping your children to be confident and to have healthy images of themselves. I will be contemplating how I can put this into action in my own family. Thanks again!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I know there are SO many opinions on the way to go about building confident children. I hope I'm on the right track!

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