When parents and teachers talk about the need for good self-esteem, they usually mean that children should have “good feelings” about themselves. For young children, this also refers to the degree they feel accepted and valued by the adults and peers who are important to them.
A child with a healthy sense of self-esteem feels accepted and loved, is not afraid of making a mistake, and knows that the important adults in their life would go out of their way to make sure they are safe and well. On the other hand, children with low self-esteem do not feel accepted and loved, are afraid of being wrong, and are not sure the important adults in their life would go out of their way to ensure their safety and well-being.
It is important to remember that “self-esteem” is not something that magically appears out of thin air. It grows from our early childhood experiences. In the first six years of life we acquire our fundamental beliefs about life and ourselves merely by observing the behaviors, attitudes and reactions of our parents siblings and peers. This is not a thinking process, but rather an automatic download or an experience similar to “cut and paste”. Once our beliefs are acquired they will color our perceptions about life and ourselves for the rest of our life, unless we actively change them in our subconscious mind.
Living with the belief that you are flawed, inadequate or undeserving can reap havoc with your ability to succeed. On the other hand, if given opportunities to discover the faultiness of your perceptions and an opportunity to change those core beliefs can change your whole life. Self-initiated hypnotic-like practices, like the drawing activities in the ICWIB program, are a very effective way to change old beliefs that are stored in our subconscious, because they take the brain into a relaxed and receptive state, which allows for the easy observation and transformation of inaccurate thought patterns and beliefs.
Challenges are important, but so are activities that encourage inward reflection, and the valuing of the child’s uniqueness. Providing opportunities for children to experience a sense of balance and discover their uniqueness can help them develop a good sense of self. Unfortunately, we live in such a performance driven society that type of development is being rushed or overlooked. The end result is similar to taking a cake out of the oven before it is fully cooked––it falls! It fails! It never reaches it full potential! I find myself concerned about the future when I see the list of beliefs that sixth graders have about themselves and life. (Today’s Pilot Update)
The good news is the teachers, and parents that are using this creative program with young children are noticing changes in behavior, attitudes and responses. This in turn is affecting their performance both in and outside the classroom. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get tools like these into the hands of all of our children so they grew up knowing how to transform negative beliefs that are hindering their ability to thrive?
If you are interested in using some of this program with your children or students here are some free resources:
Introductory Presentation for Teachers––audio file http://www.icreatewhatibelieve.com/media.html
I Create What I Believe! Activities
Today’s Pilot Update
“…This week I had my students write in their journal about what false beliefs a sixth grader might have about himself or herself. Here is list of beliefs that plagued them and they felt plagued other sixth graders: You are stupid. You can’t pass. You can’t play sports. You are not as good as others. You have to do what adults tell you to do. You have bad handwriting. No one likes you. You are ugly. You are not pretty. You can’t do math. You are fat. You can’t do anything right. You need to be a bully. Scary movies are real. Monsters are real. I am going to die today. Many of these beliefs were repeated many times in the journals. The last four were only single entries…”
A lighter note from the same teacher, “…The ICWIB program is a great equalizer––especially for my special ed. students. I usually have to tell them how to do everything to get them through a lesson, but this is something they can do as well as rest of my students! It is nice to see changes beginning to take place in individual students and in the classroom…”