4 steps to build your child’s “I am enough” belief
By Dr. Sandy Gluckman | Contributor
We all want our kids to become their very best selves. We support, encourage and prod them so that they can be everything they are capable of being. You would think then that our kids would be emotionally resilient and have a robust spirit; that they would be bold and gutsy.
Yet, it is being widely written about that one of the greatest emotional epidemics of modern times affecting our kids is that they struggle with an inner core belief of “I’m not enough.”
The inner pain that this belief causes is immense. It affects absolutely everything in the child’s life. Every day, I see children and teens who are hurting emotionally, academically and physically because they cannot cope with the inner feeling that they can never be enough for their parents and their teachers; sometimes, even, that they are just not enough for this world.
What strikes me is that all these kids have such loving parents. And still the child is hurting inside! Why? It seems that even with the best intentions, we may be sending our kids the message that they could be doing better. Of course, this is not the message that parents intend to be sending, but it is certainly the message that the child is hearing. And the more we encourage and pressure them to be better, do better, behave better, the more they feel, “I am not enough.”
By pushing our kids to the limit or seeking out popularity for them, we are actually making it impossible for them to step into their own greatness—in the way that feels real and right and inspiring to them.
The 4 mistakes that parents unknowingly make
We want our kids to succeed so badly that we spend a great deal of time talking to them about what isn’t working and far less time speaking about all the wonderful things they are and do. I call this “inflammatory parenting.” We become preachy, give tedious lectures and repeat ourselves ad nauseum—sending the subtle, or not so subtle, message that they are not enough. This causes children’s stress to rise, which is detrimental to their spirit, body and brain.
We try to fix our kids, instead of fixing ourselves. We may not realize that the reason why we are so passionate about our kids succeeding is because we ourselves don’t feel enough. In my work and research, I have discovered that every child I see who doesn’t feel good about himself, has one or both parents who themselves feel like they are not enough. Kids know how we feel! So if we want our kids to be confident, we must model this attitude.
We think that if we tell them often how amazing they are, our kids will eventually believe it and develop a strong self-esteem. Trying to convince them doesn’t work. In fact, it often aggravates them and causes them to withdraw or get angry with us.
We allow traditional healthcare providers to treat any symptoms
our kids have without finding and fixing the underlying root cause. Modern medicine teaches that when we fix the root cause, the symptoms go away.
How do you know when you are pushing too hard and unintentionally causing your kids to feel “not good enough?”
If your kids are feeling “not good enough,” they may:
• Say things to put themselves down. They may even use the words, “I am not good enough.”
• Have very high expectations of themselves.
• Judge themselves harshly and may be very hard on themselves.
• Be afraid to try new things for fear of failing.
• Become perfectionistic as a way of making sure that they are good enough.
• Develop stress-related physical symptoms such as headaches, gut problems, eczema and asthma among many other possibilities.
4 steps of action that will build your child’s “I am enough” belief
1) If your kids have several of these signs, please take it as a message that you are likely pushing them too hard. Be careful not to think that these are just the usual teen symptoms. Not all teens have low self-esteem, nor are they all super-critical of themselves or perfectionistic.
2) Begin by making sure not to blame yourself as a parent. Feeling guilt will only give you stress, and stressed parents create stressed children. So let yourself know that you have always parented the best you knew how, and commit to making some changes to your parenting style.
3) Ask yourself, “Am I perhaps pushing too hard because I want my child to perform in ways that will make me feel good?”
4) Start having Healing Conversations using the 5-1 rule. This means that on any given day your child hears five positive messages from you to one negative one. Watch for the wonderful characteristics your kids display and let them know that these are what make them special. The reason for the 5-1 rule is that when there are five positives to one negative the child’s brain begins to encode a new belief…“I am Enough.” Try this for 21 days, and you will be amazed by the transformation in yourself, as well as your children. You will begin to see your kids through less judgmental eyes; you will enjoy the wonder of who they are; your stress will decrease, and your kids will become calmer and happier.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Sandy Gluckman is a learning and behavior specialist, working with parents whose tweens and teens have attention, behavior or mood problems to find drug-free solutions. Reach her at 972.758.1246 or firstname.lastname@example.org. www.drsandygluckman.com