Overcoming Negativity and Teaching Kids About Self-love

Published on: February 15, 2021

Thinking positive thoughts has a huge impact on a person’s sense of self. Parenting coach Galina explains how parents can influence children with positivity and lessons of self-love.

By Galina Kalinina

Are you raising a negaholic child? Negaholism is a condition when people have zero or little self-love. It’s a pattern in which people are not being kind and gentle to themselves. They beat themselves up, diminish their capabilities or talk to themselves negatively. 

Before you read on please answer the questions below. 

  1. Do you have difficulties celebrating your accomplishments?
  2. Do you have tasks that you have never accomplished that you harbour against yourself?
  3. Do you sometimes focus on all the times things didn’t work out in the past?
  4. Do you often find yourself expecting the worst?
  5. When imagining a big goal, do you hear voices in your head saying: “You can’t do it… you’d never be able to …”?*

If your answer is yes to at least one of these questions, the chances that you are a negaholic and that you’re raising your child to be a negative thinker are very high. 

Negaholism is a condition that is unconsciously passed from generation to generation. It starts at the very early years. Kids get imprinted by their parents while observing what they do and what they say. It all begins from that moment when kids learn how to disconnect from themselves, their feelings and their bodies. The moment when they stop loving themselves for who they are. The moment when they assume they need to be and behave a certain way in order to be accepted and approved by their parents and society. Learning how to love yourself is a lifetime process. Unfortunately, there is no subject at school that teaches us self-love.  And the majority of parents are not trained or aware of how to do that at home either. 

When was the last time you talked to your body?

Below is a typical conversation I have during my coaching sessions.

  • When was the last time you talked to your body? 
  • My body?
  • Yes. How often do you talk and connect to it?
  • I never do it…. I do not think I’ve ever done it in my life.  

After this, I explain to people that there are so many relationships that they’ll have in their life. They will come and go. But there is one relationship that will stay forever. And it’s up to us what to make of it. It’s the relationship we have with ourselves and our body.  

The first lessons of talking to our body happen in our early childhood. Whether we are being kind and gentle or whether we’re engaging in regular critical talks is what sets up the stage for the way that relationship will evolve through the years. 

Whether you realize it or not, parents are given tremendous power to influence their kids for the rest of their life and teach them the right lessons of self-love. 

Helping Kids Develop Self-Love

It’s become increasingly popular to talk about self-love. It’s almost trendy. I hear people saying:  “I practice self-love. I go for a massage, I go for a manicure, and so on“. That’s great! But that’s not self-love. That’s pleasure! Here is my definition of self-love. Self-love is the act of sitting down with yourself and spending time to accept yourself for who you are with all your imperfections, and accepting all your feelings as they come instead of denying and suppressing them. 

If the mini self-assessment made you aware of your negaholic thinking, it might be a great idea to consider taking a few simple steps to change it. The great news is that while you are doing it for yourself you can do the same for your kids and give them valuable life lessons of self-love.  

Here are a few simple things that parents can do. They are all about teaching how to tune in and stay connected to the body. How to listen to its signals and hear what it’s telling you. 

  1. Daily Body Gratitude: At the end of each day ask your child: “What part of the body or organ would you like to give thanks to today?” You can do it either at the dinner table as a whole family and each can take a turn. Or you can do it as part of your bedtime routine. I’m always fascinated to hear my son’s answers. “My brain, thank you for helping me play with Lego today and building this tall tower” or “My legs, thank you for helping me run fast and chase my friends at the playground”.
  2. Body Scan:  Every time your child is experiencing an intense emotion invite them to notice and recognize their body sensations: “Where in your body do you feel this emotion?” You can help by asking probing questions: “Do you feel butterflies in your stomach if you’re feeling nervous? Do you feel heaviness in your arms and chest when you’re feeling angry?”  You can also do this with not so intense emotions. This exercise reinforces the message that it’s okay to feel all the feelings. That every feeling is a signal from the body that you need to listen to and respond to.
  3. Trust Your body: “Let’s talk to your body. What is it telling you?” This is another very frequent question you can ask your child. It’s a brilliant way to teach your child to talk about their body. “Is your body feeling hungry? How big is your hunger? Is it small, medium or big?  Is your body full of energy and does it not know how to release it?” are some of my favorite questions with my kids.

I do the same with my own body. I start every morning by checking in with it. Before I head to the gym, I’ll ask: “what do you want to do today?” and it’ll tell me. One day it tells me “I want a hard-core workout” and then I’ll do some weightlifting and do a great sprint on the treadmill. Another day my body will speak and ask for a gentle workout, and then I’ll just walk and do some stretching.

When my son was 4 years old, he asked to turn on an ages 6+ cartoon and he wanted to give it a try. After 5 minutes he switched it off by himself saying “my body felt it was too scary and I turned it off”. Moments like this are great opportunities to reinforce the message “It’s so great that you listened to your body and what it was telling you. You trusted your body. Well done!” 

4. Read Books About Self-Love. There are many wonderful books that help our kids develop self-love. These are my favorites: Giraffes Can‘t Dance by Giles Andreae , Have you filled a bucket today by Carol McCloud, Grumpy Monkey” by Suzanne Lang and “Listening to your body” by Gabi Garcia. 

Practicing self-love does not have to be complicated. It’s the small things that count. Choose at least one suggestion from the list above and do it together with your child. Make it part of your daily routine and repeat it consistently for at least a month. Let us know what differences you notice and feel about yourself and your child.

About the Author

Galina is the founder of ParentUp.  Her mission is to help parents to prepare and become great in the most important job of their life — being a parent. Galina is a wife, mother of two, and a certified PCC ICF coach.  galina@myparentup.com  www.myparentup.com


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