How to Instill Confidence and Self-Esteem

by Cate on December 20, 2010

Santa On Board(Nick heading off to school this morning, Santa hat in hand, ready to share the holiday spirit.)

There are so many important tools that I feel compelled to give my children while they are growing up, and having confidence and self-esteem are two of the more top-priority ones.  With that, it seems that you can overcome or get through most anything.

Nick sometimes decides if it will be a “good day” or a “bad day” based on what is going to happen that day.  If he has a class at school he likes.  If friends are coming over.  If we have fun plans.  And I’m working on that with him.  Because having a good day can’t be always tied to specific things. Having a good day can sometimes be about doing a whole lot of nothing, but doing it with people you love, you know?  Heck, having a good day can be tied to being able to finish a sentence without a little one interrupting your voice.

Last week, The Ex changed the day he was going to see the kids because he had to work late.  Nick said something about “darn, now it’s not going to be a good day.”  And that’s when we talked about it.  I told him that Daddy is not in charge of if Nick is going to have a good day or not.  It’s nice that he’s coming to see him, but even if he doesn’t, Nick can still have a good day.

YOU are in charge of if your day is going to be good or not. When you wake up, you can decide how your day is going to go.  How much you will let bad things affect you.  How much control you give bad things over your day and your life.”

He listened and nodded.  He gets it.  I know he does, but he’s still only 8 years old.  Hey, at 40 years old, it’s a lesson I need to remember myself sometimes.

I refuse to let negative actions and thoughts define the type of day I have.  I deal with it and move on.  At least that’s my intention.  Some days, and I’m sure you agree, it’s easier to let things go than others.  But as a few dear friends know, our mantra is always “be like a duck and let it roll off you.”  QUACK!

Confidence and self-esteem … such huge lessons to impart on our littles, isn’t it?  My daughter, who won’t let me brush her hair in the morning and doesn’t mind getting dirty.  I tell her, with her electric-shock hair, that she’s pretty every day.  That she’s a smarty pants.  Because she is. I want her to feel that.  And to know that.  To have enough confidence and self-esteem that, while she cares what other people think, it doesn’t define who she is.  That she gets enough love, encouragement and support from those who love her … and that that’s enough.  That it’s nearly everything.

When one of Nick’s friends, at age 8, is plucking her eyebrows because she’s worried about having a unibrow… that I know a 12-year-old on a diet because a friend said she’s fat … that kids quickly resort to calling each other “weirdo” and it rolls off their tongue as quick as saying “hi” does … filling our kids with confidence and self-esteem helps them combat the daily twists and turns of childhood and school.

Nick tends to be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to art.  While I love that he adores art so much, I don’t love when he beats himself up about it.  I explain that with art, there are no rules.  It just is. And it’s enough.  It’s always enough. Whether the color isn’t right, or a line isn’t straight, it’s all good because his passion and creativity shine through while doing something he loves.  And his confidence in that is supremely important.

Two of my weekly Zumba classes have quite a few young girls in it.  Girls that are super thin, but think they aren’t.  I worry about them.  Exercise is good.  Taking it too far because being a size 4 isn’t enough isn’t.  The instructor in the class started using “Just the Way You Are” as one of the cool-down songs over the past few weeks, and I love that because I think it’s an amazing message to drive home.  For the girls trying to look like the latest issue of Glamour magazine.  For our kids.  For all of us.

Her eyes, her eyes
make the stars look like they’re not shining
Her hair, her hair
falls perfectly without her trying
She’s so beautiful
And I tell her everyday (yeahh)

I know, I know
When I compliment her she won’t believe me
And it’s so, it’s so
Sad to think that she don’t see what I see
But every time she asks me “Do I look okay?”
I say

When I see your face
There’s not a thing that I would change
‘Cause you’re amazing
Just the way you are

And when you smile
The whole world stops and stares for a while
‘Cause girl you’re amazing
Just the way you are

What a great reminder and message about how amazing we all are, and speaking of confidence and self-esteem… it couldn’t drive it home better.

Project 365
December 20, 2010, Photos #309-314

Bird's Eye ViewWhen I switched Nick from private to public school this year, I was afraid I would miss the Christmas concert. While I don’t miss sitting in hard seats for two hours, I was going to miss the kids singing Christmas music. Nothing gives me goosebumps quite like an entire school singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing or Joy to the World (two of my favorites). While his school doesn’t do a Christmas concert or show, luckily his CCD class does, and we were treated to a handful of Christmas songs tonight, including my two favorites. The concert was only thirty minutes long – like a concert express – but just enough to drive home a little bit of holiday spirit.

Christmas Concert

Proud SisterGosh, those cheekbones.  I could just melt.  She hates the collective noise of everyone clapping, but was sure to clap big and loud for her brother.

My FortuneI haven’t had Chinese food in months. Seems only appropriate that this was my fortune tonight.

Craft TimeOne more Christmas present done.

Babysitting Craft TimeBabysitting tonight. On top of everything else, this is one resourceful single mom.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

FireMom December 20, 2010 at 11:24 pm

I felt kind of bad the other day. One of my friend’s sons — four years older than my oldest son — called my boys “weirdos” the other day. He was joking. But then that evening, my boys were calling each other weirdos.

My husband and I looked at one another. We sighed. We explained that “we” don’t use the word. It could hurt someone’s feelings and make them feel sad or bad. They nodded and seemed to take it to heart. The next day, they told said friend not to say weirdo because it wasn’t nice. My friend overheard it and looked at me. I just smiled and shrugged. I know she thought I was being over-sensitive. But I was called a weirdo. A lot. And other words. And I know that my boys will be teased similarly. And I don’t want to allow them to say such words simply because other people will say those words to them.

So, this post hit me in a spot tonight and I just wanted you to know that you were heard.


Joanne December 21, 2010 at 7:19 am

Self esteem is truly one of the most important things you can impart to your kids because it will allow them to float through anything in life. It will propel them and keep them going even when everything sucks, because they’ll know that they are strong and they can get through it. Really, truly. Great post.


The Sister In-Law December 21, 2010 at 8:17 am

I love the picture of Maddie, she looks like a little angel praying.



Ramona December 21, 2010 at 11:36 am

You are a wise Mom. And with that you will guide your children well.


darla December 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I am a school secretary and every morning the principal makes announcements before doing the Pledge of Allegiance over the PA system. I do this with the kids when she’s busy. Before signing off, she or I say, “Make it a great day or not…..The choice is yours.” Maybe you can tell this to Nick every day too when you send him off to school.


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