By Vicki Savini.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Better yet, what do you feel? You may think a mirror is just for brushing your teeth, styling your hair, or examining your overall appearance, but the mirror can actually be a very powerful tool.
I am the youngest child in my family. I grew up with two loving parents and three older sisters, so I certainly wasn’t starved for attention. I was a dancer, a singer, an artist, and even a writer. I had hard working parents who taught us to be kind, generous, and always help others. I was praised for my efforts in everything I did, and told how good (and sometimes bad) I was. Ultimately, I learned to base my self-esteem, self-image, and self-identity on the thoughts and opinions of others.
But that’s all different now…
Childhood is a brief moment in our existence that impacts the rest of our life. It truly is our foundation. As parents, we do the best we can with our children. Since they don’t come with instruction manuals, we simply try our hardest to nurture, love, and shape them based on our own experiences. Most teachers, parents, and child care workers, want to give children tools for success, but many don’t know where to begin.
That’s why I want to give you this empowering tool that you can use on yourself or the children in your life…
As a child, I was praised by others but I was never told that in order to feel peace and happiness, I needed to like the person staring back at me in the mirror. I was never asked how I felt about my performance, my accomplishments, or my feelings. Often, when I felt sad or disappointed, I was told that I had done well and I should be proud, but I didn’t feel proud and it didn’t feel right to ignore my true feelings.
My experience has taught me to allow children to feel their feelings. I encourage you to let children know that it’s absolutely necessary to allow their feelings to occur naturally, no matter how sad, angry, or frustrated they may be. Even if there are accompanying tears, these feelings are important and must be felt and processed. Hold your children when they feel sad or disappointed (without offering a solution), and allow them to get it all out. Then, look into their eyes and tell them that it is completely acceptable to feel however they are feeling. Once the feelings have moved through them, try asking what they would like to change in the future. Give them something to look forward to.
Finally, take this experience and turn it into a gift. Each day, have your child look in the mirror and practice turning their thoughts around. If they feel inadequate in math, have them look in the mirror and say, “I am getting better at math every day.” If they feel like they have no friends, teach them to look in the mirror and say, “I am a likable person and I make new friends easily.” Most importantly, encourage them, every day, to affirm, “I am important!”
When we teach children to look at themselves with love and acceptance, even when they are not feeling their very best, we teach them to honor and love the person in the mirror, and this is the greatest gift of all. See your brilliance, and they will see theirs as well.
Photo Credit: Lushei (Flickr)