My young friend Matt is a 12-year-old that I have had in my social group since he was 9. Matt is a terrific kid, and he’s come a long way in learning how to manage his strong feelings, acknowledging the difficulties he sometimes has with communication, perspective taking and frustration management.
One of the areas that Matt still struggles with is punishing himself if he feels he has made a mistake or something doesn’t go well. During these periods of upset – which happen regularly, Matt tells me about how he has low self-esteem.
It happened again the other day and Matt again told me about his issues with low-esteem. This time, I looked at him at said, “You are right. You do have low self-esteem. You have low self-esteem, because that is the truth that you tell yourself every day. We are all made up of the truths that we tell ourselves.” I asked him to consider what it might feel like if he told himself positive things about himself instead. He thought about it a minute and responded, “The brain really is powerful, isn’t it?” I said to him, “It sure is. It can be your greatest fan or your worst nemesis.”
Think about the messages your child may be sending to his or herself. Think about the messages you send to yourself. Are those the truths you want your brain to accept?