Most children learn to identify themselves by what they have been noticed for early on in their lives by the important people around them. Believe it or not, what we say to our young people can impact them for a lifetime. In today’s world, beauty and physical appearance are attributes so commonly nurtured and encouraged in young women. It’s no surprise then that so many young girls today — who all have identities and worth — are heavily wrapped up in their physical appearance. Whether we know it or not, we are subconsciously driven to encourage and perpetuate these societal norms.
But, today, I encourage you to go out and do something a little different to foster confidence. Choose today to empower a little girl by noticing something about who she is, other than her appearance. Choose to notice something about who she is at her core. Take notice of something that stages of life, hormones, and puberty will not change! Choose to compliment something that she actually has control over cultivating in her life.
Make it a point to notice her fun personality, her contagious smile, the joy she brings others, her warmth, her intelligence, her interests, her humor, her curiosities, the things that seem to bring her the most joy, or her kind and compassionate nature. After all, these are the gifts that bring lasting beauty not only to our souls but to the world around us.
Good character requires letting our inherent worth be the building blocks of our foundation for life. That means we must know ourselves well enough to pursue things consistent with that knowledge. True confidence is the byproduct of this journey. When we have lived our gifts, we learn our gifts, get reinforced for those gifts, and continue to pursue using those gifts.
Unfortunately, in a world led by social media, many kids live in the mental anguish of chronic self-doubt and self-loathing, feeling insecure and worthless as they hide behind empty smiles and facades of confidence.
As our culture attempts to define who our children are, and who they should strive to be, they get exposed to lots of idols to emulate, which only deepens the gap between who they feel they are vs. who they want to be. Without our interventions, their identities and values become unconsciously and disproportionately molded by what the world told them was important, whether reputation, popularity, money, sexualized identities, power, image, social status, and the desire to be recognized or sought after. After all, look at the world of influencers. Do you sometimes wonder what made them qualified to influence? I certainly have this thought regularly, but then again, groupthink is powerful. The truth is, at times we have all been driven to become greater in some way — more important, more honored, more prestigious, better than our peers. This isn’t always bad, but it does sway our daily ambitions and how we live our life. When we discover what we were equipped for, we compare ourselves less to others and get to choose more consciously how we want to live our lives.
As parents, we teach our children to know their worth by recognizing their inherent gifts, so they know first what they’re pursuing before they are told what to pursue. The more we know of our innermost self — our strengths, and our inherent good — the more we can bring about everything we were made for and set it into motion, inspiring others and breeding real self-confidence. Knowing our worth also helps us place our character over our reputation, so our behaviors become motivated by not just the moment, but by the future we are trying to build out of the foundation that’s been laid, developed, and reinforced. So, equip your children to chase the things that bring their life meaning and help them discover their inner convictions, the things they are naturally drawn to. Feel like you don’t know your children’s inherent strengths? Try visiting viacharacter.org to take the free survey!
Tips for Encouraging Self-Worth in Your Children
- Let go of comparisons and competition. Teach your children to see others for their good. Let them witness you encouraging, complimenting, and supporting others. Help them get rid of the need to see others as something to be better than. Everyone has gifts. Be comfortable in your own design and work to define it, not beat somebody else at their design. When we chase someone else’s life, we miss out on discovering our own worth and living our purpose.
- Notice their gifts. See their inherent gifts, talk about them, and be sure they are things they have control over cultivating.
- Accept/acknowledge your struggles. Being authentic requires us to know our strengths, to fan the flame of our strengths, and to be comfortable in who we are at our core. That means accepting our weaknesses. So in many ways, we have to let go of trying to appear perfect. Struggle and imperfection are universal to the human race. We are all beautifully broken in some way and we have all been given unique strengths in different ways. We win when we stop trying to ignore our weaknesses. Can your children see yours?
- Stop being so hard on yourself. Self-disparaging never helped anyone. Don’t let your kids witness this in your voice. Your voice becomes their voice. We help them change their voice when we change our voice.
- If you’re grateful, show it. Gratitude is the most important emotion for psychological well-being. Being grateful for what is good, is protective over being frustrated about what is lacking.
- If you love something, share it. Most of the time we think things inside that we should be saying out loud.
- If you’re unsure, ask a question. Vulnerability is a beautiful piece of humble confidence.
How do you work to foster confidence in your children?
About the Author
Dr. Roxanne Louh, a native of Gainesville, is a licensed clinical psychologist in Jacksonville, Florida, where she uses her extensive training in private practice with expertise in a variety of concerns, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, marriage, and parenting issues, and eating disorders, body image awareness, and women’s issues. She strongly believes in the prevention of mental health issues through education and awareness. Dr. Louh has presented to national groups, universities, area high schools, and churches across the country and continues to dedicate much of her time to community-wide presentations, reaching the public through various news media, social media, radio, educational talks, and blogs. An established member of the American Psychological Association, she regularly makes appearances on local news show The Chat and contributes to a blog for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, entitled “Healthy Minds Healthy Souls.” Together, Dr. Louh and her husband, Fr. Nicholas Louh, an Orthodox priest, co-host “Live with the Louhs,” a weekly radio show that airs at 8 p.m. EST on Ancient Faith Radio. She has also co-written a book with her husband entitled Renewing You: A Priest, A Psychologist and A Plan, which addresses eight of the biggest challenges she sees people dealing with and tackles them from both a faith and psychological perspective. Follow Dr. Louh on social media at @thelouhs or receive her powerful daily inspirational messages by subscribing to TheLouhs.com/Subscribe. Dr. Louh lives in Jacksonville with her husband, Nicholas, and their two children, George and Gabriella.