Millennial Amma: Instilling Self-Esteem in Our Children

By Rumki Chowdhury

As an English teacher, I encounter at least five kids in my class that lack self-esteem on a daily basis. I cannot count the number of times I have heard the words, “I can’t” or “I can’t do it!” The same goes for my own children, at home. I am sharing my personal parenting experiences and tactics with you, which also means, it is 100 percent acceptable for you to question them (hehe).

Tip 1. Speak Alternatively:

“I can’t do it,” they say. “Yes, you can,” we say.

Of course, these aren’t magic words that make your children believe in themselves, right away. They might! But, it’s important to understand that it’s a gradual process, which means that the above words can easily be followed by a suggestion, “Let me help you” or “Let me show you.”

Therefore, we not only speak alternatively by saying, “Yes, you can,” but also follow those words with a suggestive solution, “Yes, you can. Let me help you. You move this chess piece over this way….” My husband, a millennial abba, was a chess champion in his youth so he is passing his game tactics onto our children. However, the “speak alternatively” technique can be easily applied to any other “I can’t” moment.

Tip 2. Speak Encouragingly:

I am 100 percent assuming that we have all had our frustrating moments where we, as parents, have wanted to say or have said, “Why are you saying that?! Why are you being like this?! What is wrong with you?!” And as I am generalizing here, you can 100 percent question me for it (hehe).

I raised my voice at my children before and they ended up responding in the same manner. It led to…nothing, but a migraine. I realized that in order to communicate with my children, I needed to take a deep breath, think before I spoke and speak calmly. Words like, “I understand you,” “I have been where you are right now” and “I believe in you” are great verbal communication starters.

As I continue to generalize, I say that we, as parents, want so badly for our children to see themselves through our eyes, to see all that gorgeous potential that when they don’t, we get frustrated. In fact, it breaks our hearts, not because our children do it on purpose, but because we get annoyed with ourselves for not being able to give them what they need in order to feel good about themselves. We can only keep our reactions consistent and keep communication open, with the hopes that our children’s self-esteem improves. However, our children don’t tell us everything that happens in their lives so if the waiting goes on for too long, then it’s okay for us to ask for help.

Tip 3. Be a Role Model:

Our children may have witnessed us in our own “I can’t” moments. We are their role models; in fact, apart from their teachers at school, we are the adults that our children encounter the most. Turn those “I can’t” moments into “Can you help me” moments, which also train our children in asking for guidance. Moreover, those “Can you help me” moments also increase our children’s self-esteem as they feel appreciated. What’s more, small or big projects are great relationship-builders! My husband involves our daughters when it comes to building a coffee together, for example.

In conclusion, I am 100 percent generalizing for the umpteenth time: we’re all winging it as we go along and that’s the best kind of parenting. Happy Parenting!

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