Probably the greatest inspiration to my growth and healing is Dr. Wayne Dyer. So I loved when my inbox contained a newsletter from Reid Tracy, the president of Hay House, quoting Dr. Dyer about his take on raising a child's self-esteem. Because this is spot-on with my books and teachings, I wanted to share the beautiful words of Wayne himself. Numbers 6 & 7 are the most important and most profound, in my opinion...and what inspired me to write the books.
From Reid Tracy's email:
As parents, we only want the best for our children. We want them to be confident and self-loving people. There’s only one way to raise your child’s self-esteem and that is by having your own self-respect. Our children model after our actions, not just our words. We can’t tell them one thing and act the opposite. I try every day to be the best person I can be for myself, so that my kids will do the same. In the words of Wayne [Dyer]:
“Below are the seven principles that you can use as guideposts for raising your child’s self-esteem. All of your interactions as a caring parent can be consistent with these principles. Specific examples of how to implement these principles will follow.
1.You must model self-respect. Just as you must provide an example of a person with positive self-image, you must also show your child through behavior, that you respect yourself and are entitled therefore to be treated respectfully. A child must believe down to his soul that you genuinely think of yourself as a respected human being. This means first of all carrying yourself in a way that gives you personal dignity, with all that this implies; it also means that you never tolerate disrespect from anyone in front of your child, and particularly when that disrespect comes from your child. The importance of this principle can be summed up in these words: If you want your child to respect himself, give him an example of a person who does the same, and never, ever waiver from that position. When children see a shining example, it is easier for them to incorporate high self-esteem behaviors into their own lives.
2.Treat each child as a unique individual. Each of your children is a special person not like his brothers or sisters, or any other person with whom you might compare him. Respecting a child’s uniqueness means more than simply avoiding comparisons. It is a genuine acceptance of that person as a unique creation who had unlimited potential within him to become anything that he might choose for himself throughout his life. It means respecting him or her as total and complete now and always being conscious of his unique attributes. A child who is treated as unique in all the world begins to see himself the same way. A child who is allowed to be different, to dance to his own special music, to be unlike everyone else without being criticized, to be in fact anything he chooses as long as he does not interfere with anyone else’s right to uniqueness will have a great deal of self-confidence and high levels of self-esteem.
3.A child is not his actions. He is a person who acts. To promote high self-esteem you must be aware of the difference between these two conflicting notions. A child who fails is not a failure; he has simply acted in a way which has given him an opportunity to grow. A child who does poorly on a mathematics quiz is not a dunce; he is simply performing in mathematics at a given level at this particular time in his life. You can teach your child to grow from mistakes and to never fear failure as long as he understands that his worth does not come from how well he performs a given task on a particular day. You are worthy because you say it is so, because you exist. No more, no less. Self-worth cannot be validated on the basis of performance; it must be a given and something you convey every day.
4.Provide opportunities to be responsible and make decisions. Children with high self-esteem are those who are given the opportunity to be decision-makers right from the very beginning of their lives. Children need to take on responsibilities, rather than have their parents do things for them. They learn confidence by doing, not by watching someone else do it for them. They need to feel important, to take risks, to try new adventures, and to know that you trust them, not so much to do something without error as to simply go out and give it an effort. Children who learn early to be decision-makers – to pick out their own clothes, to be responsible without endangering themselves – learn very early to like themselves and feel positive about who they are.
5.Teach enjoyment of life each day. Children who live in a positive environment learn to be positive about themselves. To raise self-esteem it is essential to provide a positive approach to life as a way of thinking for your children. Give them regular examples of “counting your blessings” reactions when they feel down. Show them with your own example that you are grateful for being alive, that this is a wonderful place to live, and that this is the greatest time in the history of mankind to be alive. There is something positive to be realized in all of life’s situations. Having to wash the dishes is a time to be grateful for having food to eat and dishes to wash. Fixing a flat tire is a time to appreciate having a car when you consider all of the people in the world who do not have cars. Even more basic is the satisfaction of doing any job well, no matter how simple or repetitive it may be.
6.Provide praise rather than criticism. Children who are criticized learn to do the same thing to themselves, and ultimately become persons with low self-regard. Praise is a wonderful tool in the entire process of child rearing. Remember, nobody (including yourself) enjoys being told what to do or being criticized. Parents often believe that they are providing help to their children when they constantly correct and criticize them, assuming that they will grow from these remarks. But ask yourself: Do you like being corrected? Do you grow when you are constantly criticized? In truth, we tend to stay the same when we are criticized; we want to defend what we have done, and our innate stubbornness refuses to permit us to accept the criticism we are receiving. Create an environment in which your children know that you are with them in their efforts, rather than looking to criticize them, and you will have taken a step in building a positive self-image.
7.We become what we think about: Our thinking determines our self-image, which in turn determines our feelings and our behavior. Philosophers from ancient times until today have reminded us of this truth, and it impacts profoundly on a child’s self-picture. Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor, said it this way: “A person’s life is what his thoughts make of it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American philosopher of the nineteenth century, said, “A person is what he or she thinks about all day long.” Keep in mind that your children from the earliest moments of existence have thoughts that are shaped by your input. What your children think about can be shaped in a positive way by you, their most significant person. Do they believe in themselves? Their thinking will determine what their life will be. They will become what they think about, and you can be a positive force for thinking or a negative force.”
– Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Wayne has 8 lovely children and all of them unique in their own way. He did a great job modeling self-love and his children could see that. I hope that you all practice your own self-care as much as you motivate and love your children. Your children love you and want to be like their parents. Their self-esteem is modeled by how we treat ourselves. Happy parenting!
Wishing you the Best,
CEO / President Hay House
Thank you for sharing in some Wayne Dyer wisdom with me! Namaste debbi