Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Un-Birthday

I was given some resources on improving your adopted child's self esteem recently.  I read the little list of what children with good self esteem do versus what children with poor self esteem do.  It was evident to me that one of my boys has low self esteem.  I've known it, but this was just another confirmation.

Self esteem is often low for children from hard places.  They've been through a lot.  They've been through a lot that sent them the message they are not valuable, they are not precious, they are not loved.  And children often believe they themselves are the reason for all the bad things that have happened to them.  Plus there's the whole lack of secure attachment thing.  Overall, self esteem is a struggle for many adopted children.

I find myself, as a mom in 2014, trying to balance this with all those studies and articles that tell me I might be praising my kids too much.  But really, it's another example of the fact that we adoptive parents have to parent differently than other parents, or maybe even differently than we did with our biological kids.  Children from hard places are different and have different needs.

I have to shut off that little voice in my head that tells me maybe I'm boosting their self esteem too much, maybe I'm complimenting them too much.  No, I'm not.  In fact, I need to praise my boys more.  I need to tell them more often how precious they are. 

Today, my husband decided to throw an un-birthday party for our boys.  We realized J-Man has been stuck on the fact that his birthday hasn't come in a while.  May and June contain his brother's birthday, his mommy's birthday, plus all kinds of other celebrations for our family.  But nothing about him.  And for him, that's really hard.  He needs to feel very special and for the past couple of months he has felt the opposite of that.

It's easy for me to just think he needs to get over it, he needs to move on.  But when I look at the heart of the matter and how much he's had to just get over in his life, I feel a bit ridiculous.

So Chris made some tin foil party hats, grabbed some $5 dvds at WalMart, put some candles in a pile of Oreos, and we had a little surprise un-birthday party for our kids today.  It was really quite lovely.  The joy on J-Man's face was beautiful.  He felt special.  He felt loved.  He felt important and valued. 

Let's make fools of ourselves trying to convince our kids that they are special.  Let's wear tin foil hats on a random Thursday in July to show them they are loved.  Let's see the need and meet it no matter how ridiculous and petty it may seem to us.

That's what I learned from my husband today!


Stacy said...

You're married to a wise man. And he's blessed to have a wise woman by his side in this parenting journey. I love you guys and you encourage me!! Happy 4th! ❤️

Big D and Me said...

I have always taught kids who struggle since I was a special ed teacher, instructional specialist, and most recently a tutor for kids who are homeless. All kids need praise. They need praise when they struggle and praise when they succeed. In order for them to try something new or move through learning a concept for them that is difficult, they have to believe that they can do it and someone else thinks they can do it. I always praise the small successes even if it's a 5th grader who not sure of if 3 - 0 = 0 or 3. "Nice work. You set up the problem correctly. Let's just go over this part.' Praise leads to self belief in kids, I've seen it time and time again. Don't let anyone tell you not to support your kiddos up. When kids believe someone thinks they can do it, they can do it. And your belief will help them get there until they can believe themselves.

Sorry for the long winded response. I just believe kids from difficult places don't hear enough how wonderful they are and what amazing things they can do.

Keep up the wonderful parenting job you are doing.

Laurel Feierbach said...

Thanks for your comment, "Big D and Me". Great points!

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