Christmas Gifts

by : Bernadette Dimitrov

Give a gift that keeps on giving - self-esteem which is the collection of feelings or beliefs that we have about ourselves. How we define ourselves influences our motivations, attitudes, and behaviors and affects our emotional well being. Self-confidence, great relationships, and a good shot at success in whatever you attempt is the prize for self esteem. Now is the time to think about your overall self appraisal of your own self worth, self-confidence and self respect and how this influences your children and others around you and what you can do about it this Christmas season.

Having healthy self esteem will produce:
-Armor against life's challenges
-Feeling good about yourself
-Find it easier to handle conflicts and negative pressures
-More realistic approach to life - will look for solutions and have the ability to move forward rather than get stuck
-Generally optimistic and will enjoy life more

Low self esteem produces:
-Challenges becoming sources of major anxiety and frustration
-Harder to find solutions to problems
-Produce critical thoughts such as 'I'm not good enough', 'I'm not loveable', 'I always do things wrong', 'nobody cares about me'
-Will belittle oneself for weaknesses rather than accept them eg. will say 'I'm an idiot' rather than say 'I don't understand'
-produce a passive, withdrawn or depressed state
-distorted perceptions of life - can see temporary setbacks as intolerable and permanent
-a sense of pessimism predominates

Give the gift of fostering healthy self esteem in your child!
Know that low self-esteem begins in childhood and is the result of the actions and attitudes of significant older people around us. Don't program your children to feel less than wonderful about themselves. Here are a few great tips of how you can give and make a big difference:
&bullPraise your child: especially for jobs well done and for their effort put in. Be mindful of your words, what you say and be truthful. Reward effort and completion rather than outcome. For example your child lost at basketball and didn't make the finals, say 'you didn't make the finals but I'm proud of the effort you put in' rather than 'next time you'll work harder and make it'.
&bullBe a positive role model & do not criticize even in jest. Ensure you develop and display healthy self esteem with your role modeling. You don't want your child to grow up mirroring adults with pessimistic or unrealistic expressions about abilities and limitations. For example, don't criticize find positive ways to address an issue. If you criticize chances are your child will grow up with a mate or boss who is constantly telling them what they do wrong because they have grown up believing it is ok for people to treat them that way and thus they allow it and attract it. Do not use demeaning nicknames in jest they are criticism and they damage self esteem.
&bullAddress irrational beliefs. It's important to not only identify unhealthy or inaccurate irrational beliefs but to redirect them. These beliefs may include issues around attractiveness, perfection and abilities. An example might be that your child is doing well at school generally yet is struggling with English. Your child might say things like 'I'm not a good student' or 'I can't do English'. This is a generalization that is setting up the outcome for failure. You would redirect the child with something like 'You are doing well at school and you are a good student you just need to spend more time on the English subject and we can work on developing that'.
&bullGive spontaneous affection. Tell your child you are proud of him or her. Hug your child. Leave a note on their pillow 'I think you're terrific' or 'you make a difference'. A parent's love can support and boost a child's self esteem. Be mindful not to overdo it - kids are good knowing when it's not honest.
&bullDon't argue in front of your children. Exposing your child to repeated arguing and fighting may cause withdrawal and depression. Low self esteem will result from a child feeling unsafe or being abused at home. Respect your child by creating a safe, nurturing home environment.

Self esteem is not about bragging that you are the greatest or that you are perfect. Nobody is perfect but having healthy self esteem will result in you or your child knowing that you or he or she is worthy of being loved and accepted. Self esteem creates a belief in one's self and courage to try new things and the ability to make better choices about your mind and body rather than go along with crowd doing dumb or dangerous activities. You'll respect yourself even when you make mistakes because you will have a healthy and realistic view of your abilities and a situation. Because you respect yourself, others usually will too.

Tips for gifting yourself self esteem!
You can help develop your self esteem, love and acceptance of yourself by focusing on the good things you do and all your great qualities. Here are a few suggestions that you can try to increase your self-esteem:
&bullChoose your friends well. Choose to spend more time with people who help you feel good about yourself. Be in relationships that bring you up not drag you down.
&bullMake a list of things you're good at. It can be anything from cooking, sports, drawing, writing, singing or telling a good joke. Now add a few things to your list that you would like to be good at. Now make a plan as to how you could work on developing skills you will need to be good at what's on your list.
&bullGive yourself a compliment a day. Find something you did during the day that was good. For example 'I was a good listener today' or 'I was a good friend to Johnny today' or 'I made a good effort to complete my work today'
&bullKeep a journal of good things said about you. Studies have shown that people with low self esteem tend to forget or filter out information that counters ingrained negative beliefs. Having a journal your write down praise given to you will enable you to remember and acknowledge your real value.
&bullExpress gratitude daily. Before you go to bed every night think of at least one thing in your day that you are grateful for. It could simply your toothbrush because it gives you clean teeth and fresh breath! Start with small things and build on it each day.
&bullAccept your body. Remind yourself that there are some things that are uniquely yours - embrace them such as shoe size, skin color and height. Don't compare yourself with others just learn from them. If you are wanting a healthier body learn skills to improve your health and take up a physical activity. Acknowledge your body's strengths eg. I have strong legs, I can ride a bike really well.
&bullNext negative thoughts and self critical remarks. Make a conscious effort to be aware of when a negative thought enters your mind. Stop it immediately and redirect yourself to healthier thoughts. Negative thoughts discourage and drag your self esteem down as does every time you make a self critical negative remark such as 'I'm an idiot' you are reinforcing negative patterns in your brain that do not serve you.

Have a Self Esteem Christmas!
Giving and Christmas always go hand in hand. So how about this Christmas you give self esteem as your gift this season! Here are a few suggestions:

-Send a self esteem Christmas card. Show your appreciation and thoughts by sending words of thanks, gratitude and acknowledgement of the person you are sending a Christmas card to in your greetings message. For example, thank friends for their friendship and smiling time spent together or if an employee, for their efforts and loyalty. The extra effort to acknowledge something personal and good about another goes a long way towards boosting anothers self esteem.
-Purchase self esteem presents. Think about your message and what kind of gift would go with it that would convey your words. Here are some examples - motivational books (to uplift and encourage) or a board games (great for sharing fun, smiles and memorable quality time together).

So now you know why you want to foster healthy self esteem in yourself and in your children and some tips to get you started. There is no better time to start than at Christmas, the time for giving and the time to give the life enhancing gift of self esteem!