Have you ever known someone who despite the overwhelming odds against them, has overcome incredible trauma to lead a healthy, happy life? Every once in a while I meet someone like this and I am always in awe. So what's the best recipe for helping your child be resilient in the midst of whatever they face? Research says, it's you!
School can be awesome, but it can also be tough! This episode is all about empowering your kids with hope, love, confidence, and encouragement as they step into a new school year, full of new challenges and opportunities.
You may recognize this episode as a repeat of last year’s Christmas episode, Faith and Self-Esteem. But I wanted to share it again this week (during August of all things) not because I’m anything like Costco, who is already getting their Christmas decor out, but because it’s been on my mind as my kids get ready to go back to school.
This episode is based on an event my husband and I put together to help our kids make the most of their school year last year. In it I share quite a bit about my perspective as a Christian, but you don’t need to share my faith in order to get something out of this episode. The main point is to empower your kids with hope, love, confidence, and encouragement as they step into a new school year, full of new challenges and opportunities. There are many ways to do that! One listener shared with me that she wanted to put the notes/trinkets on her kids’ pillows every night for eight nights because their love language is receiving gifts and she knew they would appreciate that.
To help get you started, I threw together a printable that you can get here, which you can totally customize for your family. I hope you enjoy this episode!
Raising Today’s Kids - Podcast Episode 7
FAITH AND SELF-ESTEEM
Last week’s episode was all about helping our kids develop their self-esteem. So this week, as a Christmas gift, I wanted to share something we did for our kids this year to help them recognize their worth, and develop their self-esteem. It was based on the belief that understanding God’s love for them is foundational for a strong self-esteem. And I thought this was especially fitting since this week we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Just as an interesting side note, there is a fascinating research project called, American Families of Faith. It includes over 50 articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and focuses on the relationship between religion and family life. Over a period of ten years Drs. David Dollahite and Loren Marks interviewed 200 families of different faiths and ethnicities from across the United States and what they found was that religious beliefs, practices, and communities typically are associated with significant personal, marital, and family wellbeing.”
Many of the families they interviewed talked about how their faith was a powerful resource to help them overcome challenges. They would say they have the same issues as their friends and neighbors who weren’t religious, but said, “our religious beliefs get us through them.”
I wasn’t interviewed by Drs Dollahite and Marks, but if I had been, I would have said the same thing. My faith gets me through the challenges of life, and I know it can do the same for our kids.
The idea for this episode was sparked by my kids when we were going through our photos looking for our favorite memories of the year. (We like to print them and hang them as decorations on our Christmas tree.) So we were going through looking for our favorite pictures to hang on the tree when we came across a picture from what we called our Back to School Ceremony. All three of my kids started talking about how much they loved that experience and think about it often and I got the sense that it really impacted them.
So what’s a Back to School Ceremony? Well, this year when our kids were preparing to back to school, I felt the heavy weight of my responsibility as their mom, and the heavy weight of their responsibility to reach their potential and be an influence for good in their school.
So I came up with the idea of how we could go the extra mile to give them a sort of internal armor. So a couple nights before school was going to start we asked them to get dressed up in their best clothes and be ready to come to the basement at a certain time. My husband and I also got dressed up in our fanciest clothes.
In the basement we had three chairs set up with three candles on an ottoman in front of them. When it was time to start the ceremony we turned out the lights and lit the candles and started the Olympic theme song. Then we called to our children to come down the stairs. As they came down the stairs we announced their arrival on our karaoke mic. I’ll tell you they were so confused, but full of anticipation.
Once they were in their seats we welcomed them to our Back to School Ceremony and explained that we were going to give them 8 Guides to a Great Year! Then my husband and I took turns announcing each guide, which were all represented with cheap little trinkets I had bought from a party supply store.
The first was a ring with a crown on it. We explained, “You are a child of God! Isn’t that amazing?” We talked about how much God loves them and wants to take care of them. We encouraged them to talk to God every chance they get, to share their worries with Him, ask Him for anything. He is only a prayer away. Then we handed them their crown ring and let them admire it for a minute before moving on to the next object.
Next we gave them a keychain flashlight and said, “Because you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have a special light within you. Every kind, helpful, obedient choice you make will help others feel of His love. Your light is a powerful force for good. Share your light.”
Next we gave them a key and told them how education is the key to unlocking their future. We talked about how God gave them an incredible brain that is capable of learning more than they can comprehend. We acknowledged that sometimes learning is hard, but encouraged them to remember these three things:
1 – “Your teachers and us [your parents] will do everything we can to help you learn.”
2 – “Sometimes your brain will understand big chunks at a time, and sometimes it will only understand tiny nuggets. Both are ok! Go at whatever pace works for you. Be patient with yourself.”
3 – “Look back every once in a while to see how far you’ve come! You used to not even know the names of the colors. Now look at what you know!”
[Caution: “Sometimes books and teachers are wrong. Only God is 100% right, 100% of the time. Listen to Him. Also remember, the most important teachers in your life are God and your parents, everyone else is bonus.”)
Next we gave them a small plastic trophy and said that God sent them to earth with distinct talents. The talents are theirs, but they are meant to be shared. Some of them are obvious and some are hidden. We encouraged them to discover their talents, be grateful for them and develop them, because they will be some of their greatest assets.
Next came a compass. We said, “God sent you here as part of an incredible Plan. Mixed in with the joy, excitement, beauty, wonder, and love of life, you will also experience confusion, frustration, ugliness, sadness, and pain. These experiences are meant to teach you and help you grow. Know that because of Jesus Christ there is always hope and light. He can get you through anything, so keep pressing forward. It will all be worth it!”
Next came a soldier. We talked about how the enemy of God is real and wants them to be miserable like he is. He will do everything he can to tempt them to follow him. That’s why it’s so important to put their armor on every day. We reminded them to do this by saying their prayers, reading and following the word of God, and loving others. We reminded them they are in God’s army and He is infinitely more powerful! We encouraged them to stay on His team to always be safe. We acknowledged that they will make mistakes, but shared the hope that Jesus is always ready to help them get back up again.
The next item was a mood ring. With it we told them, “You can be happy or you can be grumpy. It’s up to you. Sometimes you will have hard days, but if you have an attitude of gratitude things will always go better. See the good in others. See the good in yourself. Remember how loved you are! Find joy in the journey.”
The 8th and last item was a stuffed animal that represented us, their parents. We said, “We love you! We are here for you no matter what. You can come to us about anything. We are your cheerleaders, your listening ears, your shoulders to cry on. We are not here to make your life easier, or take your challenges away, but to help you reach your potential. At the heart of everything we do is our love for you. We will make mistakes, but we will always keep trying. We hope you will trust us and find comfort in us.”
Then we gave them a little zippered bag from the dollar store to keep all their little objects in. We printed the meaning behind each object on a tiny scroll that we tucked into the bag as well. Then we encouraged them to keep the items in their backpack and look at them when they’re on the bus to remind them of what they mean.
As you can see, our Back to School ceremony was totally dramatized and maybe why that’s why it was so memorable for them. They felt loved and important and encouraged, and it worked great for their ages and personalities. Obviously this shouldn’t just be a one time event, but the kinds of things we talked about in our ceremony should be woven into regular conversations with our kids.
So what do you do to help your kids with their self-esteem? I’d love to hear about it. You can connect with me at Raising Today’s Kids on facebook, Instagram, or my website, raisingtodayskids.com.
Remember, you are meant to be the parent of your child. You are uniquely qualified and irreplaceable. Thanks for listening and have a Merry Christmas!