by Kathy Foust
You might have read the title and immediately thought to yourself "Who would teach their child to be a victim", but in reality you'd be shocked at how easy it is to create a victim mentality without even meaning to.
Being a victim doesn't just happen. It's a gradual mindset that takes hold and while it can certainly be changed, it's smarter to just avoid ever going there at all. As parents, we have the power to provide our children with the tools to be strong enough to avoid ever becoming a victim. That doesn't mean nothing is ever going to happen to them, but it does mean that they will have the ability to bounce back from life's little twists and turns. A good majority of that ability starts with a healthy self esteem.
One way to create a healthy self esteem is to create a strong family unit that your child is proud to be a part of. I'm not talking about Brady Bunch kind of stuff either. I'm talking about a child who is happy to come home, who knows they have a strong support system and isn't afraid to talk to his or her parents. Below are some suggestions.
Encourage their interests. If you want your child to accept who they are, your acceptance goes a long way toward that. It's always a great idea to have them try new things, but don't condemn their current interests. I personally approach my child's activities the same way I approach dinner time. He has to try everything on his plate, but he doesn't have to eat what he doesn't like. The same goes for his interests. I also don't let him wolf down a bag of marshmallows for dinner, no matter how much he likes them because it isn't healthy.
When it comes to activities, I have no interest in video games, but he does. That means I listen to his vivid descriptions of how he just saved the world, but he has to do other things as well. For instance, he didn't want to join the baseball team because he was nervous. I didn't just make him go to practices. I went with him to every single one. I played catch with him. I bragged about his skills to his dad. It only took a couple of times of us tossing the ball around for him to decide joining the team wasn't such a bad idea.
Provide them with age appropriate tools. At 9 years old, my son is starting to notice girls and to wonder whether they notice him. He has a pretty healthy self esteem, but he's still dealing with all the insecurities that come with being 9 years old. So, I talk to him about how I felt at that age. I also encourage him to read his favorite books, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It's inexpensive and he really enjoys it. In the meantime, though he doesn't realize it, he learning to relate to other children. He's reading about another child his age and that child's issues. In fact, he got so excited by this series that when we ordered them from Scholastic, he couldn't wait. He went to the library and had every one of them read before his own copies ever came in!
Books like this are great tools for kids. They increase their reading speed, develop comprehension skills and give your child a character that he or she can relate to in their own imagination. Really, a parent couldn't ask for much more than that!
Do things as a family. When you do activities as a family, like family fun nights, you are creating a wealth of experience for your child to draw from. They learn to have fun in a healthy as a family unit. Given the fact that most households are busy trying to make money to pay the bills, parents seem to run on limited time. When your child realizes that you took time out to spend it with the entire family, that shows him or her a certain level of dedication that's ongoing. It builds a strong support system for them to draw their decision making skills from. Prizes for family fun night are always a great motivator as well!
Get involved in the community. Every member of any community has a responsibility to draw on their strengths in an effort to do positive things for the community. It doesn't matter if you join a club or if you do something simple live creating service projects together in an effort to support some parts of the community. What's important here is to create a sense of belonging in a larger way than just inside the household.
Don't forget your role. As a parent, you are obligated to fulfill your role no matter how tired or frustrated you may be. Remember, your children didn't ask to be there. Since they are there though, you need to provide them with the skills they need. Talk to your children, not down to them. Learn how to make an impact on your child by sending the right message when you talk to them. Use the resources that you have and do things like play games to increase self esteem, providing words of encouragement and opportunities for success.