Long before we are able to accept others for who they are, we must learn to accept ourselves for who we are. It was interesting how when our students were asked about one thing that they liked about themselves, they came up with the things they like to do. Then a few of them talked about how they liked being a kind person, or someone who made friends easily.
Liking ourselves begins with knowing what we enjoy doing, our favorite (whatever) and then being willing to stick with that even if it is different than what others like to do. As parents we sometimes have in our mind what we would like to see our children like and how we would like to see them be. However if our child likes to build things they may not be the next greatest soccer player, no matter how much we would like to see that happen. As a parent our acceptance of that and celebration of them is important to their growth in self-esteem, confidence and resistance to bullying that may take place.
Never underestimate the power of our words. In one of our classes after not getting a great response to what do you like about yourself, I proceeded to look at each student and tell them what I found unique and special about each of them. Later in the evening I asked one of the students what they had said about themselves and she could not remember. But quickly said, “But I remember what you said.” Affirming our appreciation for what is different and unique and special about our children will help them to accept themselves and from there we can build on accepting others.