I finally got to see “The Help” this weekend and wept my way through it. I have many thoughts and feelings on the movie, but I wanted to hit one particular aspect in this blog: raising a child with healthy self-esteem.
We saw poor toddler Mae Mobley whose mother didn’t want to hold her or change her. Because Mae Mobley’s mother thought she wasn’t going to end up beautiful, she wasn’t giving her the time of day. In steps maid Abileen to give her love and help boost the poor child’s ego.
Abileen would make the child repeat daily: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
Then there’s the adult Skeeter who completely relates to poor Mae Mobley’s plight. Skeeter is smart and articulate but unfortunately has curly hair that frizzes in the Mississippi humidity! And her mother does not find that acceptable or attractive. How will Skeeter ever find a husband as unfortunate looking as she is? Despite her mother’s criticism the grown Skeeter is confident thanks to her maid Constantine who helped feed her self esteem as a child.
A former school teacher of mine told me recently that the kids she is teaching now are constantly seeking praise and reinforcement that they are good and worthwhile. She thinks that they aren’t getting that at home but isn’t sure what has changed.
So I am wondering: Do you think you are hurting your child’s self esteem with criticism of appearance or ability? Do you actively try to reinforce good feelings about themselves? Do you have an ego-boosting mantra for your kids? What do you find is most effective way to raise kind, loving kids who aren’t full of themselves but do feel good?