Why Our Kids Need Us to Be Kind to Ourselves
I could go on for days about the way we tear ourselves down on the daily. It is so easy to pick apart every aspect of yourself from your body to your personality, and society seems to put a never-ending amount of pressure on women to look and be their best.
Yes, 2015 saw a record amount of body awareness and acceptance campaigns by both companies and influential individuals sharing testimonies about the struggle to be perfect. But it's inevitable that our children will experience pressure about self-image at least once as they grow up.
My husband and I really make an effort to not talk about weight or appearance in front of our kids. I am a makeup artist, and one of my daughter's favorite things to do is go through all my kits of makeup and apply it for herself. When she would ask if she could play with my makeup I would respond with something like, "Of course you can love. But you know you look beautiful without any makeup on, right? " I must have said it so much that it's now her routine to say the line before it even crosses my lips.
Why could I tell her that, but not fully believe it about myself?
This lingering question really got me thinking of how much nicer I could be to myself and how my children could benefit from that change. The last thing I want to be to my children is a hypocrite, and it was time to start practicing what I would preach.
We could all be a little kinder to ourselves. A little less harsh about the small mistakes we make, a little more appreciative of our natural shape. As if self-love isn't important enough for ourselves, it can really benefit our kids in the long run. Here's why:
1. They will have more realistic expectations. Sitting down with your kids and explaining to them that airbrushed magazines and movie makeup are not real is a very good place to start. Our kids have been born into this world at a time where fashion girls like the Kardashians have everyone trying to reach an unattainable level of perfection, the message of material goodness playing stringently through our phones and computers day after day. Our boys and girls need to be raised with the ability to discern what is real and what is fake. In showing them our love for who we are, they will have the ability to love who they are. If we can't be nicer to ourselves and we aren't happy with who we are, how can we expect our kids to love themselves?
2. They will learn to admire each others' differences. One of my favorite quotes reminds me to 'admire someone else's beauty, without questioning your own'. This is so powerfully true. When you get to the point where you feel happy and secure in yourself, it allows you to appreciate the qualities that make other people beautiful and unique. If we all looked the same and acted the same, how boring would this world be? It would be lacking in visionaries, artists, doctors and everything in between. Being kind to yourself will teach your kids tolerance and compassion, and positivity breeds positivity.
3. They will have a healthier body image. It's been reported by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) that 40-60% of elementary school girls are already experiencing heightened weight consciousness, but children (both boys and girls) can develop body image issues starting at the age of four. That's preschool, people. Doesn't that just break your heart? I wish I could wrap my kids in a protective bubble, but instead I settle for telling them how fantastic and awesome they are on the daily. While this positive bubble is okay for now, there's still a judgemental world out there that they will eventually have to enter into. If they have strength and security in themselves that has been nourished from a young age, it is more likely they will maintain a healthy body image as they enter into their teenage years and young adulthood.
When you choose the attitude of your inner monologue and decide to make your thoughts positive, it will become a way of life for you. When your life reflects your positivity and self love, not only will you feel better but your children will feel the difference as well. It's not just girls that have self esteem issues -- growing up is awkward and difficult for boys as well. If we keep the lines of communication open between ourselves and our children about body image, live an active and healthy lifestyle and practice words of affirmation, our kiddos will be equipped to handle the pressure from the real world when it's time for them to leave our bubble.
No one is perfect, but we can have a perfectly healthy appreciation of ourselves and one another if we practice self-love.