Less "Please Please Me"! Because That's Where Self-Esteem Grows!

Me and my 9 year old were discussing ‘humiliation’ last week. Unsurprisingly, being told off at school was his most poignant memory of embarrassment, the teacher being much less profound than all the other kids staring.

Which leads me to the question; What’s more important for our children, whether we live or work with them;

Resilience: the ability to ‘just get on with’ or ‘over’ it, or push through discomfort?

Or acceptance and empathy; validating that discomfort, rather than insisting they just suck it up?

There’s usually a balance to be struck between protecting their emotions, and accepting that they just can’t be happy about everything all of the time.
But discontent and discomfort are often not as straightforward as we – or they – realise.

For example, my son often tells me he doesn’t like school. And yet he rarely says he’s had a bad day. In fact, he quite enjoys school in truth.

The issue is less about the environment and more about lacking autonomy. As inconvenient as it is sometimes, humans, young ones especially, just don’t really like being told what to do.

And why should they? Yes, they’ll always need guidance and support, but evolution didn’t intend that they develop through rules and directions, wherever those may come from, and however well intended they are.

sense of agency and influence is actually very important, not just in human development but in nurturing good mental health.

But it doesn’t fit very comfortably into many aspects of an average childhood; especially an education system which values conformity over uniqueness; not just in its children, but in the practitioners tasked with implementing it.

So what can we do about it?
Because children still need to know how to navigate a world where there are other people’s needs to consider, not just their own, don’t they?
After all, a sense of belonging and a place in the social order are just as important to emotional wellbeing as their sense of ‘personal power’.

And this is where the ‘humiliation’ conversation started with my son. He’d asked me whether I thought he’d done well at football, so I fired question back to him.

And he said he felt too ‘embarrassed’ to say yes.
Ridiculously, he went on to describe that ‘saying that you’re really good at something is a bit rude’.

And that’s absurd, isn’t it; that somewhere along the line, the world that so easily makes them feel bad for not being ‘good enough’ also makes them feel bad for being good enough; that sharing their success is somehow wrong or shameful?

How early and easily are children developing fear of judgment, the anxiety about what others; children AND grown-ups; think of them?!

As many of us know from our own experience, that kind of fear can cast a long shadow; not just in childhood, but for a lifetime.

So, while life can’t always be rosy, while children do need resilience and to follow directions more than they’d like, there’s also huge value in nurturing kids who can break free of the ‘please please me’ attitudes they grow  up with so much of… who can give themselves permission to be themselves unapologetically, and sometimes put their own pleasure and needs before others’.

And, while we should keep letting them know how proud they make us, let’s also teach – not just tell them! – to be proud of themselves; regardless of who they’ve satisfied, pacified or pleased (or not!)

 

Because feeling PROUD of themselves generates the healthiest biochemistry available in young brains.

Pride is also the antidote to shame, which unsurprisingly, creates the most toxic biochemical cocktail possible!

 

That’s the science behind this particular ‘Little Notes’ one of eight designs that are included in my self-esteem building resource ‘Pip & Acorn’s Little Notes‘.  
Delivery is FREE so find out more here

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