I sincerely believe that it is far more beneficial and far less costly to help a child build confidence than it is to fix an adult who has little or none.

We are our own worst enemies

young sad manIt is a fact, WE ARE OUR OWN WORST ENEMIES.  Who hurts ourselves more than we do?  Except for extreme cases, nobody does.  We put ourselves in situations where we allow ourselves to be hurt, we talk to ourselves in a negative way, we put ourselves down, we call ourselves ‘stupid’, we tell ourselves that we are worthless.

Other people will often hurt us and then disappear from our lives, but we will continue to repeat their unkind or cruel words over and over again in our minds, sometimes for the rest of our lives.  We will re-live the abusive actions and tell ourselves that we deserved what happened.   We create harmful habits that hurt us continually.

Self-harming has become a growing problem with young people.  Stats show that at least one in four teens are using harmful behaviours, such as eating disorders, cutting, and self-criticism.  Some young people are convinced that inflicting pain on themselves is the only way to feel alive and often this is the only thing that they are able to control in their lives.

Parents and other adults are often hesitant to discuss these topics and will avoid speaking with the young people in their lives.  This creates a feeling of loneliness that will cause these neglected young people to isolate themselves when they really need to connect with someone.   Sadly, some media sites encourage self-harm by promoting and glorifying these actions.

It is important that we take action to help young people today realize that their lives are valuable and they should never do harm to themselves.  Start a conversation with the young people around you and let them know how special they are.  Help them build confidence and increase their self-esteem.  Be a positive role model and help someone become their own best friend!

Here is an article on this topic with some information on a new campaign to address this issue.

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Show love to your children

My husband was checking his Facebook account this morning and I was reading my emails.   He likes watching the short video clips and I heard the sound of a lady’s voice screaming.  When I looked to see what he was watching, it was a clip about a mother yelling and using the F word, at her child to clean up the mess in the bedroom and that she was posting this on Facebook, apparently for the purpose of shaming the child.

I know there are many parents who raise their children in this type of negative environment, but hearing and seeing this really upset me.  I wrote a quick comment – ‘This is a terrible thing to do to a child.  It will destroy their esteem.”  I wanted to add more and tell her that she should be ashamed of herself, but I stopped myself.   I’ve learned to see people from a different perspective and I realized that this women had probably been raised in a similar environment and probably thought she was doing the right thing.  Some of the comments she received from other people were praising her for taking control of her child.

It’s sad that people think it is okay to raise a child by controlling them, belittling them and criticizing them.  This only creates an adult who has insecurities, fears and the inability to make good choices in life.  Children need to be raised in a loving, encouraging environment if they are to become responsible, caring adults.

I feel very sorry for that poor child that was criticized and put down on Facebook where everyone could see it.  What a cruel form of punishment!  However, I also feel sorry for that mother who didn’t know any better.

It is so important that we try to be good examples for those around us, whether they are children, teens or adults and try to model love and kissing little baby

Parents, please love your children with all your heart.  Children are special!

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Why are people so nasty?

When I was a child,  I had my share of mean comments from other kids that bullied me.  Almost every day, I heard words that were intended to hurt me.  Being small, I was called pipsqueak, tiny, midget, shorty.   Descriptive words were often added:  dumb kid, mouseface, stupid baby.   I hated going out for recess because I didn’t have any friends and I knew that I would be targeted.  Sometimes, the bullies were busy with someone else and I was spared until the next time.  Thankfully, I when I was in class, the bullies had to be quiet and respect the teachers so I didn’t hear those unkind words.  Then when I went home from school, the bullying stopped and I had peace until the next day or the next time.

Today, things are much harder.  Bullying can continue on all day, every day, never stopping.   Cyberbullying can be done 24 hours a day, through emails, texting, and social media.  People Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of Paperwho are the targets of bullies can be literally “beaten-up” continuously, which eventually wears them down and can destroy them mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Bullying is a terrible thing that NOBODY should ever have to experience.  There is absolutely NO REASON to hurt someone else in the world on purpose.  NOBODY has the right to hurt another person.  Sometimes we can hurt other people unintentionally, but if we do, we should quickly apologize to that person and make amends.

Research shows that bullies are usually people who have been hurt themselves and they have low esteem.  In the environment they grew up in, they have been bullied or abused themselves and this is the only thing they know.  In order to feel better about themselves, they hurt other people.  This gives them a sense of power and temporarily boosts their esteem, which of course will be gone once they are hurt again themselves and the cycle continues.

People who are bullied often feel that they deserve to be bullied because there is something wrong with them.  This is not true and they shouldn’t allow themselves to feel hurt.  Now, if someone tries to bully me with their words, I look at the situation with a totally different perspective because I understand why it happens and my esteem is getting stronger.  I don’t allow myself to feel bad, instead I feel sorry for the bully and wonder who hurt them so badly that they feel the need to hurt other people.

I also used to think that I was the only one who was being bullied, but I know now that people of all ages and positions in life are bullied.   Even famous people who have thousands of adoring fans get nasty comments.  I just watched the following clip from celebrities that received some nasty tweets.

Again I ask the question,  “Why are people so nasty”?   This is because they haven’t received enough love and the proper attention in their lives and they haven’t been taught how to respect other people.  What a sad and terrible thing to gain satisfaction from hurting other people with words and actions.

Parents, teachers and other responsible adults who are in contact with children, need to try to help children build esteem, encourage them to be nice to each other and teach them how to deal with bullies.  It has been proven that children who have strong esteem are more likely to withstand negative peer pressure and bullying.   Children need to know that their lives have value and that they deserve to be treated with respect from everyone.  We all need this no matter what age we are.

PLEASE watch what you say to someone else.  Your words have a lot of power and they can cause a lot of damage.  We should always try to be nice to everyone we meet.


Helping teens build esteem

teen against treeThe teen years are very difficult and many teens struggle with self-esteem and body image issues, while experiencing changes in their bodies.   This is the time when peer pressure can become overwhelming and teens start comparing themselves to others, looking at actors and models and wishing they had their ‘perfect‘ lives and ‘beautiful‘ bodies.    In their quest to find friendship and happiness, teens are led into a trap of deceit and false hopes.   Believing that their value is found in possessions, money and power, teens spend money on worthless stuff that may temporarily win some friends, but ultimately will lead to frustration and failure.
It isn’t realistic to measure ourselves against other people because we are all unique individuals and we can’t possibly be the same as somebody else.   It may surprise some people but even those superstars that we envy are also comparing themselves to other people, wishing they didn’t have any flaws and imperfections.  Studies have been done on models that show a large percentage of them have low esteem and feel very unfulfilled in life.  It is also a well-known fact that many movie stars lead very unhappy lives and don’t feel good about themselves.  So why do our young people want so much to be like these models and movie stars?  The answer is simple – they don’t have good esteem which causes them to look for happiness in all the wrong places.
People that have confidence in their abilities and strong self-esteem can handle life’s difficulties more effectively.  Children that feel secure in their home surrounded by love and appreciation will be better prepared to withstand the effects of negative peer pressure.  It is the responsibility of all parents to help their children develop good esteem as they grow up.  Here are some tips:
  1. Love unconditionally – Take a few minutes every day to tell your children how special they are to your family.  Hug them, send a card, write a note, tell them how much you love them.  NO, THEY DON’T JUST KNOW – you have to tell them and show them your love.
  2. Encourage and support – When something goes wrong in life, as it will, teens need to be reassured that you will support them no matter what.  Teens are very sensitive when they do something wrong or fail at something and they need to be encouraged to try again so they don’t give up on themselves.   Tell them that it is normal to make mistakes and they shouldn’t be discouraged.  Talk to them about famous people who have succeeded in life by learning from their mistakes.
  3. Be open-minded – Teens need to know that you are listening to them and that you are not going to judge everything they say.   Listen with an open mind even if you don’t agree with what they are saying.  Respect them and don’t try to control the conversation.  Be honest and keep the lines of communication open.    Teens want to talk to someone who is interested in hearing what they have to say, and if it isn’t you, it will be somebody else that may not have their best interests at heart.
  4. Choose your words carefully – What you say can influence people in a positive or negative way and you need to teach your teens the importance of communicating in a positive way.    Remember that once you say something, your words can’t be taken back.  Words can hurt and words can heal.  Words can stop wars and words can start wars.  So many relationships have been destroyed by just a few wrong words.
  5. Be honest – Talk openly with your teen about life and its challenges (smoking, drugs, alcohol, sex, eating disorders).   Talk to them about the false messages that are portrayed in the media and help them understand the truth about advertising.  Share some personal stories with your teen about your own life and the lessons you learned from your mistakes.  This helps them see you in a more realistic way.
  6. Be a good role model – Teens are always watching the adults around them to see what they say and do, so we need to be careful we are influencing them in a positive way.   Take a look at your own life and determine if you are the example that you want your child to follow.
  7. Compliment your teen! – Many parents negatively comment about what their child is wearing.   Unless, they are dressed in something provocative or totally unsuitable for the occasion, try to compliment them on how they look.  Remind them they are unique and that they are special.   Remind them of their good qualities and abilities.
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In today’s world, young people have huge issues about beauty and body image.  Did you know that about 2/3 of all females avoid participating in some activities because they feel bad about how they look and almost half of all males are unhappy with their looks?  There is so much pressure on young girls and boys to be physically perfect and this creates all sorts of problems – stress, anxiety, depression, addictions, eating disorders, and so on.

All you have to do is read a magazine, turn on the TV or look at a computer to see images of ‘beautiful’ people living ‘perfect‘ lives.   These unrealistic images of beauty become reality, especially for our young people and they become obsessed with their looks, losing all sense of their own unique identity.

Body weight has become a major issue and even though only 19% of teenage girls are overweight, about 67% think they need to lose weight.  Stats show that 80% of girls have dieted by the time they are 18 – but listen to this – 40% of girls have dieted by the time they are 9!!!  This just about blew me away!!!    What is happening to our young people?

We need to start promoting healthy living to our younger generation.  How?  By becoming a positive role model and setting a good example.

Are you confident in your own abilities and do you have a strong self-esteem about your own body image?  This will have a positive effect on those around you.  Or are you constantly dieting, criticising your own looks and obsessed about your clothing?  This will have a negative affect on those around you.

Make some positive changes in your life and then consider becoming a mentor to someone in our younger generation.  There are so many young people who don’t have any positive influences in their lives and they are desperately struggling to find out who they really are.    Try to make a difference in someone’s life and you will find it very rewarding!

Dove has put together a lot of ideas on how to start discussions with young people.  Visit their site for some great ideas