It's never too early to learn to love yourself! Now that I'm a parent I can attest to the importance of this statement. I have a 14 month old and a three year old, and during their short lifespans they have both taught me so much.
It amazes me how they grow so quickly and how fast they learn things from their environments. My daughter is three going on 13 and thinks she knows more than me! (Don't tell her, but sometimes I think she does.)
The other day, I picked her up from nursery and as she got up from the classroom circle she very confidently said to her friends while beckoning them with her tiny little fingers, "Guys, I'm leaving now! Come, come and give me a cuddle."
I had to wait for her to get hugs from EVERYONE, including the nursery teachers. As I watched her, many things ran through my mind, including the steadily worsening traffic that we were about to face because I had to wait for her to finish giving hugs.
With all jokes aside, I was most amazed by her confidence. As parents, our children get all types of compliments, but I can categorically, undeniably and positively say that the best compliment I've ever received as a parent is being told that my child is "confident."
Why? Because confidence conveys so much - it's a multifaceted concept that has deep meaning that continues to grow as we mature. It is so fragile and delicate, but at the same time it can be strong and powerful.
Confidence in children is evidenced in various ways, so it's important to try to build it so that it follows them straight into adulthood. There are so many things we can do as parents to increase confidence, but one very important way to do this is with the power of reading.
Photo via @JPatricephotos
I can attest to the great things I've seen happen in my children by reading them many different types of books. So, it's important to have a variety of books available for your children from an early age, as it helps with so many things. Reading will bolster communication, imagination and vocabulary.
Children love getting involved, seeing beautiful illustrations and hearing new and intriguing words. They become entranced by stories that they can relate to, visually or orally.
I decided to write children's books, and I wanted my first book to be about confidence and self-love. I have had a great difficulty finding books that were diverse enough to reflect different children, including my own children. I created a book that can reflect the lives of a wide variety of children. We need more books with diversity especially around disabilities, race and ethnicity.
Fast forward to my book, called I am who I am. I am who I am is about a young elephant named Elle who is made to feel different than everyone else. She eventually learns a valuable lesson about herself and realizes that it is okay to be different. My book helps diverse children to develop self-esteem and foster a positive self-image from an early age.
Why is it important for children to foster a positive self-image? Well, according to a 2016 report on bullying by Ditch the Label, 1.5 million young people in the UK (50%) have been bullied within the past year, and 19% were bullied EVERY DAY. National Children's Day UK is all about the importance of a healthy childhood, so sharing a book that promotes self-confidence, respect for others and love of diversity in children is the perfect way to raise awareness of this day.
Photo via NCDUK 2017
A child with a healthy level of self-esteem is not immune to bullying, but they may possess greater coping skills and develop healthy ways to deal with adverse situations. These skills follow them through life into adulthood and can help them feel more confident in new environments and situations. In my book, I include several coping skills that will help your child manage difficult situations. These include:
• Listening and talking about their feelings
• Encouragement to accept their special uniqueness
• Preparation for new environments
• Promoting helpful and positive ways of thinking about self
If we can encourage our children to develop positive ways of thinking about themselves and others, we can promote a healthy sense of confidence and self-esteem. They can build on this self-esteem as they grow up. Regardless of their colour, age, sex, or ability level, every child deserves to be told how great they are.
Reading books can help your child start on their confidence journey, so let's continue to make our children confident, one book at a time.
I Am Who I Am is available now.
Photo via @JPatricephotos