While every parent wants what is best for their children, we are not able to prepare the future for them. However we are able to at least prepare our children for the future!
Parents are the primary educators of self-confidence and self-esteem and it is never too early to start this process. As they progress to school going age, we need to encourage them to do well and partake in physical activities that teach them to be team players. This builds a strong sense of wellbeing within themselves as well as confidence, making positive thinking a natural part of their thought process. This is vital in creating a well-rounded child.
As children look to the parent as their role model, we need to be sure that we create a good example. Be aware of constantly criticising your own body, weight or appearance. Girls in particular will pick up on this trend. Criticism in this area cannot instil confidence with a good self-image if they are taught to be aware of these factors.
Emphasise the importance of staying fit and healthy as a healthy body creates a healthy mind. There are many things that families can do together such as brisk walks while children ride their bikes. As they grow older, cycling together as a family is a wonderful pastime. We must also rid ourselves of the old stereotype of boys being better at sport than girls.
Gone are the days of ‘children should be seen and not heard’. Parents need to teach their children to be able to stand up for themselves and speak out when necessary. This does not mean that one must encourage precociousness but rather to stand up with confidence and in a respectful manner. Peer pressure starts from a young age therefore this skill is very important.
Be careful not to have a different set of rules for your son and daughter. For example by saying that little boys can get dirty in the sandpit and little girls can’t, restricts their development and strengthens the stereotype that girls must always look pretty rather than doing something productive. Treat them equally so that they grow up capable of doing the same things.
As Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets said, “They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are”.