Teaching our kids about self-love is the best Valentine we can give.
Self-love and self-care are things we don’t talk about nearly enough, especially with our kids. What better time than Valentine’s Day to teach our kids how to celebrate their beautiful and unique selves?
When you love and respect yourself, you are showing others how to treat you. I have amazing parents who taught me many important things, but this particular lesson wasn’t something they offered. Why? Because they were never taught it themselves. With each generation, we have a chance to give our kids something a little more than we were given to help them be their best selves in the world. I love this advice from a mom who truly believes in the power of self love. I really love the concept that we teach people how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. Simple and brilliant. Like all the best wisdom! But how do we do that for our kids?
Stay connected. To them. And to ourselves.
Our toddlers not only watch and listen to everything we do, they watch and listen to how we do it. Our tone. Our authenticity. Our consistency. So teaching them to love themselves and care for themselves means do that for ourselves first. Like the oxygen mask advice we get on the airplane, we really do have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of anyone else. And as impossible as that sometimes feels, that means parents too!
It’s one of the first things we teach our kids – how to say “thank you.” And while that’s important, gratitude is about so much more than that. It’s also about noticing the little things that make us feel happy – a sunrise, our family pet, a beloved activity. And safe – our home, warm clothes, healthy food. And seen – close friends, great teachers, and coaches, connection to our parents. Gratitude makes us happy, and practicing our skills is important. Here are some great ideas to teach your children gratitude.
Create healthy habits.
I once heard the phrase “Junk in. Junk out.” Meaning the quality of what we put in our bodies determines the quality of what comes out. (I used this with my son a lot when he was younger to justify why tootsie pops were not an acceptable breakfast choice.) Healthy food, quality sleep, physical exercise, loving friends, challenging activities, that is what self-love and self-care are made of. Conversation, questioning the norm, volunteering, accepting others for who they are, accepting ourselves for who we are, embracing our differences and celebrating them. That is what self-esteem is built on. This mom knows what she’s talking about.
Of course, this can be a little tricky around a day that celebrates with bags of candy hearts and boxes of chocolate! Everything in moderation my mom used to say (one of the amazing things she taught me) and alternative Valentine’s Day gifts can often be even better than chocolate (though our kids may not believe us at first.) Concert tickets, special craft supplies, and INSTANT FORGIVENESS FOR (ALMOST) ANYTHING certificate – very popular in our house – these are all great gifts that support healthy habits.
Helping our kids learn to take care of themselves inside and out is one of the most important jobs of parenting. Self-care + self-love = self-esteem. Life tools we all want our kids to have more of as they navigate a world that seems increasingly complicated. And that is the greatest gift of all. For our kids. And for the future of our world.