Most parents share the goal of raising happy, healthy, well-rounded and polite children, but what about confident, compassionate and self aware children? What can we do to create an atmosphere in our homes that encourages our kids to see, hear and correct their own inappropriate behavior without our needing to constantly point it out? How do we foster an environment where they learn to love who they are, as they strive to reach their own personal best?

As parents, we are surrounded by opportunities to help our children to shine. By encouraging them to find ways to serve others, we are promoting behaviors that build strong values, and our children begin to learn how their strengths make a difference in the lives of other people. By engaging them in conversations about those strengths and all that they bring to our families, they learn to create an awareness of what really matters. Our hope is that eventually, they use those lessons while learning to self-regulate their behavior and instead make choices from a place of self esteem and self confidence.

For example, my nine year old daughter loves to be the typical “little sister”. She will instigate verbal arguments with her brother using a very deliberate kid sister tone which naturally leads to many frustrating moments in our home. When she chooses to speak to him this way, we call this the “diva voice” and we’ve even named it Myrna.

Of course, it’s difficult not to retort, “I’m so tired of hearing you speak to your brother that way! Apologize to him now, please!” Well, we all know how that turns out. We witness our sweet little ones roll their eyes back and mutter under their breath an insincere and snide, “sorry”.

As much as possible, my goal instead is to remind her of those countless moments when she walks up to someone randomly and delivers a thoughtful and genuine compliment. I aim to catch her in the act by asking, “How does it feel to see someone else’s day brighten because of your choices?” It’s then that she’s able to verbalize how it’s important to her that she chooses to be someone who is a bright light in the world and not a night light. Together, we imagine the positive ripple effect she creates when she uses her unique ability to make people feel special. It’s at those times where it’s clear to her that who she chooses to be has nothing to do with the choices of others and comes from knowing that there is no one else on the planet quite like her.

Now, in those moments when I hear the “diva voice” emerge, I am able to simply look her way, just in time to see her acknowledge that she heard it too, as she says, “No, Mom, that’s not who I choose to be.” When the apology to her brother comes without anyone asking for it, it is genuine and she walks away knowing who she is, and that she’s responsible for her choices. She also knows that she feels better about herself when she aligns those choices with what’s important to her.
Does it mean we never hear from “Myrna” again? No! It means that we hear from her less and when she does show up for an unwelcome visit, she doesn’t stay as long!

By encouraging our children to hit their own rewind buttons and to self-evaluate their behavior in light of who they choose to be, they learn to make choices that lead to a more confident child overall .

Author's Bio: 

Laurie McAnaugh, M.Ed, CLC, a dedicated coach, teacher and founder of Access Your Power believes a strong sense of self is the single most important quality you will ever create. She encourages people to view the challenging situations and relationships in their lives from higher and more valuable perspectives. Her clients develop the tools for empowerment and enjoy higher levels of self confidence. She can be contacted through her website www.choosetobepowerful.com.