Dr. Chip Dodd - Teaching Our Kids Self Worth

Are you teaching your kids about self-worth? Many of us struggle with our sense of worth. As parents, we want our kids to grow up with confidence, but we know that we can’t give them what we don’t have. As we work on our own sense of worth, there are things we can do to help our kids discover their sense of worth. Author, speaker, and therapist, Chip Dodd talks about anchoring our children in their sense of worth and teaching them how to stand on their own in the world.
Parent and Children Transparency
Work on yourself and be transparent with your children. Help them understand that they are worthy. One of the things that many parents deal with is how they are emotionally equipping their children. It’s all about working on yourself as a parent, finding your worth, and being transparent with that. Children learn from us, so if we are transparent with ourselves, they will know that they are also worth it.
Helping our kids anchor their sense of worth
In terms of the Bible, we are not worthy, yet are declared worth it in the eyes of Jesus. So, once we’re born, instead of growing into how we’re made, the world tends to snatch us up and tell us there is something wrong with how we express how we are made. Each one of us craves belonging. The only way you know for sure that you belong is through affirmation, validation, and nurturing. Whatever is nurtured tends to grow. If our performance is nurtured more than our being, we are going to drift toward performing for love.
Parents have to have what they’re offering their children. We cannot give what we do not have, so the best expression of parenting is asking yourself what you are doing as a parent to know and understand your own worth and value. If you want this for your children, you need to own it yourself first.
As we navigate the world, we are often pushed from that sense of worth toward performance. To make it in our culture, you often need to give something to the world to accommodate that but as image-bearers of creation, we were declared worth it at birth. You need to take the risk of claiming that as true and living out of that truth. It’s important to understand also that your child will experience a lot of pain in this world which the world isn’t usually interested in. They need to be able to bring their pain to you. And as the parent, it is essential that you are anchored in the truth so you can help them know their value and worth and help them deal with what’s going on.
What is it that expresses worth?
Worth assumes because you are valuable you are going to be taken care of. Expressing worth means you must trust that others will care for you. So, this truth revolves around your relationship with others, the universe, and an intimate experience of God. We are made for connection. We are made to find fulfillment through our connections, which is found in our relationships.
Minimizing the expectation that the world has on our Children
Expectations of the world can become an impairment to our children’s sense of worth because they start using societal measurements of success and value. Often, schools teach self-esteem as the course we have to follow if we want to find “success”. “Success” is all about achievement and being better than others at one thing or another. Remember, though, that achievement must be connected to the heart, or we find our worth only in this type of worldly success. Our self-esteem is rooted in our achievement and performance becomes the reason for validation. Instead of living from the truth of intrinsic worth, our kids will find themselves chasing success rather than their individual purpose.
Teaching your Children to Stand on their Own
We can do other things that keep our children from becoming entitled, privileged, trapped, and lying to themselves or having to become fake to be loved. We can do things to let them be authentic and real, to allow them to feel without fixing their feelings. If we fix their feelings all the time, the child will internalize that to feel is bad. Instead, we need to teach them feelings aren't bad. Feelings are what help us know what’s going on inside of us and lead us to a cleaner, freer way to live fully and authentically with others.
Suppose you are constantly rescuing your child from the world's pressures, expectations, and assumptions and taking responsibility for their emotional well-being. If you continually do this, you are not equipping them to stand on their own. On the other hand, you also don't need to leave them to deal with it alone. You need to have this balance of being anchored to your own sense of worth and anchoring them to their sense of worth so they can stand strong.
Allowing your Child to Feel
When your kids see you struggling, it shows them the reality that their parent is dealing with their hurt. It allows them to understand that they are free to feel and free to have problems too. This freedom keeps them from hiding their pain from us because sometimes children are tempted to protect their parents by not showing that they feel pain. We need to be open, in appropriate ways, with our kids so they can do the same with us.
If the child is not allowed to feel, they will instead become entitled and demanding. They will find themselves being powerfully seduced into things that are numbing, distracting, addictive, and harmful, so that they never have to feel again. As they see you processing your emotions, they will discover they can do the same.
Seeking Forgiveness
When we make mistakes as parents, it can challenge how we see ourselves and bring up powerful feelings of guilt and shame. Anyone who is sensitive and loves their children wants to restore connection, but our feelings can get in the way if they cause us to question our worth. To restore connection, we need to seek forgiveness. And this connection requires sensitivity – to how we are feeling so you can seek forgiveness for what you have done without losing the truth of how you are made. We can maintain our sense of worth even as we honestly acknowledge our wrongdoing and seek forgiveness with our kids.
Expect Participation Than Perfection
As we teach our children worth, we are reminding them that they are valued and loved as they are, apart from performeance. Yet, we have practical expecations for them for behavior and accomplishments. Balance what you ask of them by acknowledging what is needed in various circumstances but be sure your love and conncection doesn’t come from a place of demands and control. It is imperative children know they are loved and accepted as we are teaching responsibility. Don't expect perfection but do expect them to learn. Have expectations of participation without demanding perfection.
Be a Good Parent
Parenting is about parents and not about children. Parenting is about you as a human being, knowing how you’re made as a human being and how you live as one too. As you live from that awareness and truth, you can help your kids remain grounded in that too. It’s okay for you to be human because it reminds them, they are human too. Remember, your kids are looking to you for love and acceptance. As you allow your humanity to be accepted with grace and without losing any sense of worth, we offer that model to our kids too. It’s okay to be human. Being human is good. You don’t have to be perfect to be a good parent.
Parents hate it when their children get hurt, but we can be confident that what they are feeling will teach them and guide them if we let them experience and process what they are going through. Feeling hurt is painful but it tells us we need healing. When we let our kids share their hurt, it allows them to find healing. Eventually, that sharing brings connection and acceptance which turns into healing, and then courage - the ability to risk getting hurt again. And this allows us, as parents and our kids, to continued to access the capacity to be vulnerable and build connections.
When we take the time to connect with our kids and explain life to them, including the hurts and hardships they experience, we start making them see something beyond their feelings about it. We start to attach stories to it, next steps, and new opportunities. As they see the bigger picture, their feelings are not eradicated. They are honored and accepted but also made sense of in light of a greater perspective. We can help offer that, especially by reminding them their worth is not tied to how they feel, how they perform or don’t perform, or anything they do. They are worthy, just as we are, because we were created with great value and purpose. We can let them feel, we can show them healing is possible, and we can help walk with courage to restore connections whenever possible. As they do this, we can remind them constantly they are loved and accepted and of great worth, in our eyes and in the eyes of God.
Learn more about Chip Dodd:
Website: https://www.chipdodd.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chipdoddphd/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chipdodd
Instagram: http://instagram.com/chipdodd2

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