I’m writing this article on my 42nd Birthday. I’ve been feeling very lucky and grateful for my lot: my 3 kids, my husband and friends and family, the place where I live… the work I get to do, helping kids and teens and hopefully making a difference in their lives. I’m so touched by all the birthday messages, texts, calls, and in general I’m feeling the love today. I should add I was planning on taking some time off today but it didn’t happen, I was inspired to write…
As I opened up my laptop, Google (the search engine) was wishing me a Happy Birthday! I couldn’t believe it, but then we live in the technology age! I clicked on the birthday candles, (out of sheer curiosity) as seen in the picture, and important things that happened on 7th November came up on my screen. I share a birthday with Marie Curie and Joni Mitchell, not bad!
OPINION OF YOURSELF
Enough about me! I’ve been working with a number of children recently, and in the past, who are overly concerned, about what other people think of them, they have an external locus of control. Mainly their friends’ opinions rule their world, but sometimes its people in their outer circle of friends that they worry about. Those close to us, know us well, we feel safe with them to be ourselves, it’s those a little further outside our normal circles; who can make us worry about the impression we make. I’ve been using pictures, stories and song lyrics to help them realize that the most important opinion in their world is the opinion they have of themselves.
There are some great songs that help with this like ‘Shake it off’ by Tyler Swift (shake off the haters and their nasty words), and ‘I’m all about the base’ Meghan Trainor (don’t worry about your size, you’re perfect, don’t pay attention to magazines and size 2 models etc) – I’ve only discovered these because my own girls are now obsessed with music, and they play the same few songs over and over. There are lots of really good messages in our every day lives that our kids and teens are hearing, but I think we have to be aware of them and bring it to their attention.
Sometimes after a movie, I’ll ask my kids ‘what do you think was the message in that movie?’ Most kids’ movies have very positive messages that can just go over their heads so easily. A great movie for kids is the ‘ Trolls’, (I know I’ve spoken about this before but I think it’s worth another mention) – I don’t care what age you are, the music and message in this movie, makes it a great watch. (‘True Colours’ from the movie, is another great song that sends the right message) It not only teaches kids that happiness is inside of you and you can’t find it in another place… it also teaches us that we don’t find happiness from something we put in our mouths (Says the person who just ate 3 fairy cakes in a row).
I absolutely loved the kids movie ‘Inside Out’ too, and we got great millage out of that in our house. It shows that we all have feelings; Anger, Sadness, Joy, Fear and Disgust! And they can fight for control, depending on whats happening. If you haven’t seen it, its worth a watch with your kids; it allows us to bring up the topic of ‘sometimes we allow certain feelings to take over’. Fear of being embarrassed can take over our ability to have fun, and many other relevant conversations can come from that one.
BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
So going back to worrying about what others think of us… It’s easier said than done. We all want to feel loved, as I mentioned already, I was so happy to get so many lovely messages for my birthday. I care what people think of me too. So I’m not immune to it myself. I think the important thing to remember and to teach our kids is this: to be yourself and do what you think is right. And if you know deep down that you are a good decent person who is authentic, then you have to remind yourself of that, especially if there is a conflict or problem with someone, we have to practice not letting it take over our minds – catch our thoughts. We can remind our kids, to hold their hands up and admit it if they do something wrong, take action to put it right so that you can have peace of mind.
Often there is a lot of trouble from gossip and ‘he said’ ‘she said’… My golden rule is avoid talking badly about anyone. You never know what kind of problems they have etc. Don’t get caught up in other peoples drama and lets teach our kids the same thing. The Danes teach us that how you respond to your child has a big impact on them (previous article here about having happy kids).. if your child tells you ‘Brian kicked me today’.. You may automatically say ‘Oh that’s terrible, why did he do that? If it happens again I’ll have to go talk to the teacher’. But if we respond taking the assumption that most people are generally good decent human beings we say ‘Oh that’s not like him, he must have been having a bad day’. Our kids learn to look for the best in people and not get caught up in the drama! I’m not saying you don’t take action when you need to, in relation to kids who are bullying or being mean to your child, but quite often our kids also needs to learn how to cope and deal with mean words – this is a huge part of my work (we all have to learn this, as we know in life we will deal with good and bad people all the way through, at every stage and every age).
5 TOP TIPS: to help children to have a good opinion of themselves:
- OWN OPINION: Remember the most important opinion in the world is the one you have of yourself. Check in on your own. Don’t be hard on yourself. We all know we are moulding our kids and they copy us a lot.
- MESSAGES EVERYWHERE: Use songs, movies and anything around you, to remind kids not to listen to others people’s opinion. Talk about the messages you find.
- BE TRUE TO YOURSELF: Remember deep down inside we are, by nature, good decent people. Remind your kids of this. Try to get them to listen to that part of themselves. I call it the deep down inside voice, it can be your inner self, your intuition… deep breathing, mindfulness, tai chi and yoga all help us tune into this.
- MEAN WORDS: If another kid says mean things to yours, teach them it doesn’t mean they are true. We don’t know what’s going on for that child, and we don’t have to pay attention either. Another favorite of mine is ‘water off a ducks back’.
- NO GOSSIP: Don’t gossip or say bad things about other people (even if its true) – your kids will copy and expect the worst of people. They will also expect that others will be talking about them. It causes so much trouble it’s not worth it.
Please share any good tips, songs, movies, cartoons, games or apps that you think help your children or teens.
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Caoimhe O’Grady Tegart
Life Coaching for Children & Teens
The Confidence Clinic