How To Make Self-Love a Habit
Updated: May 14, 2018
As a mother of two amazing girls, I feel incredibly blessed that I get the opportunity to share and observe first hand what it's like to have a sisterly bond. I grew up with two older brothers; I'm the youngest of 3, so you could say that I was seen more as a punching bag. I used to imagine what joy having a sibling of the same sex must bring. You have a built-in best friend with whom you can share all your little secrets.
My daughters are still young. However, each year they get wiser, and sadly, they become less innocent when exposed to the harsh reality of life. I noticed that they are picking up on how people give unsolicited advice or comments. They are gaining a sense of self-awareness based on other people's opinions. My oldest daughter now says, "I'm not good at (fill in the blank)." And it becomes a repeat offender. Things happen, words validate a negative, and children internalize them.
I'm not perfect, I've even put these ideas into my child's mind. She would try to dress and I would say, "not good enough, go back and change," or if she were playing soccer, I would say, "next time, try harder." My intent was not to be harsh and make them doubt themselves but to have them always try harder each time. There's a tough balance between wanting to instill grit and having them believe they are good enough. Luckily for me, my daughters have each other backs. When I'm tough on one, the other will speak up. I'd imagine life would be like this if I had a sister. Although they have nothing but love for one another, they are starting to second guess themselves. Hearing them repeat those words, "I'm not good at this" I decided to make a shift and try to instill the habit of self-love.
I did an exercise that will help them understand the importance of loving yourself and embracing who you are.
Giving Self Shout-Outs
We sat together, and I asked my girls to look in the mirror. Who do you see and what is it that you love about yourself? It can be a physical or emotional thing. My youngest asked me, "Mommy why do you wear fake eyelashes? So they can look like mine?" I do want my girls to love their natural beauty. However, I'm not totally against enhancing that beauty. I explained to them that make-up only enhances your natural beauty. My daughter replies back and says," The best makeup is a smile." And right there folks, she won the point.
Relaxation with Bubbles
I'm not referring to champagne bubbles, but a tub with overflowing bubble suds. I filled it with an abundance of bubbles, hid light up bath toys, and blew up balloons. I played their favorite upbeat music and the room smelled like lavender. Giving self-love includes the ability to take time for yourself and to enjoy what brings you the most happiness. My girls loved taking baths, however, that ended when they turned 2 and I realized it was much faster to give them showers.
My girls enjoyed the unstructured time, and I allowed them to have pure fun. Simple things like taking a bath can create a lasting memory.
Love Yourself On A Post-It
When you see it, you believe it. I gave my girls post-it notes and had them create different version and styles of "I Love Myself" We did 10 versions of it and scattered them all around our apartment. We had plenty of reminders, and during this exercise, it was interesting to see how they reacted to their own mistakes. Their initial thoughts were to throw it out and create a new one. Instead, I encouraged them to look at it differently. How can a mistake become something better and more beautiful? I would also prep them with certain questions like, "What are some ways we can love ourselves?" They responded, "Taking care of yourself by eating healthy foods, taking a shower, and exercising."
I'm pleased to see their responses, and it was most enjoyable when we compared notes, copied specific sketches and had overall good feels.
Letting Go Of Negative Thoughts
Write down the negative thoughts you hold true to yourself on a helium balloon. Ask yourself, where did this thought originate? Do I need to keep it? Does it contain any truth? And can I change the way I view these negative thoughts and release them? This practice of letting go of negative thoughts frees your mind and no longers dictate the way you see your future dreams. If we don't let go, we will continue to recycle them until we make ourselves believe they hold true.
Based on opinions we form, and what we hear from the outside chatter, we begin to process and believe them. What we say to ourselves becomes directly correlated to how we feel inside. And then it becomes constant, and it doesn't change until we rephrase it.
Most of these negative thoughts don't hold real value. Our critiques hinder our ability to explore and reach our highest potential. We should recognize our thoughts, ask ourselves to investigate, and finally release them.
Taking A Risk
Ask your child to take a risk and see how it unfolds. Taking a chance will help build confidence and allows them to look at their mistakes and failures. We often don't want to try something new because of the fear of failing. We've become accustomed to thinking failure is terrible, when in fact, failure is the opposite. Considering failure a positive thing allows us to go for it, without inhibition. What's more exciting than trying something new and knowing that, even if you fail, the gain is far more significant than the mistakes you made along the way? Another tip that will help children take risk is to share stories from past experiences and what it felt like when you stepped out of your comfort zone.
Write A Love Letter
Although we already practiced saying out loud what we love about ourselves, I think it's important to see it in print. Whenever you're having a moment, you can always refer back and reflect on your love letter. Quickly, you'll be more forgiving of yourself and realize it's okay not to be perfect all the time. It was easier for my 9 year old to write, however for the younger one, have them write down what they feel and later you can write down the actual word. Fast forward in time, your daughters will be able to see how they viewed themselves and recognize they are truly beautiful little creatures.
Practicing these 6 self-love tips will eventually evolve into habits. It will allow you to map out the way you want to live the best version of yourself. Developing self-love at a young age will help decrease the negative chatter and will prevent you from being more cynical when entering adulthood. My girls are learning to cope better in times when you question your strength or desire to try new things. They have created a buffer from thoughts that may not be true and hold what makes them unique close to their hearts.
I'm dedicating this post to my 6 year-old daughter who has a heart of gold, follows the beat of her own drum, and who is wise enough to teach me these 6 self-love habits. She can see the beauty in each person, animal and thing. May she continue to be her original self and never doubt that she is loved. Happiest birthday to my sweet baby girl L! I love you to the moon and back x2.
"I am worthy of love and joy"