Serena Malcolm

I’m a 30 year old wife and mother. My two great loves are my family and writing, and blogging allows me to combine the two.

ID 10014597 e1370869036330 How to Build Self Esteem in a Child Who Feels DifferentThe very first blog post I ever wrote was about my son. He came home from school one day, put a tonne of body lotion on his face and asked me if that was enough to make him white. When I asked him why he wanted to be white, he proceeded to tell me that he just didn’t want to be black any more; all his friends were white and he was tired of being different.

The ensuing conversation was largely me (trying to help him build self esteem) telling him about the amazingly, good, talented and powerful black men in the world (thank you Bolt and Obama!) But I also talked to him about some of the great physical features that he had as a result of being black (like the ability to grow a mohawk with no need for gel, wax or hairspray!) It was enough to placate him at the time, although he’s had a couple of setbacks since.

Thinking about how to help my son build self esteem, I was reminded about that day recently, by a colleague of mine who suffers from a chronic stomach illness. She was a bit down about it so her doctor recommended that she Google all of the famous people who had the same illness as her. As she rattled off a few of the names from her list, I was surprised just how many celebrities suffered in relative silence.

She then said to me, that if they were able to overcome the illness and do all of the great things they do, she was determined not to let her issues define her.

And that conversation reminded of the time when I was 15 and I sat my GCSE exams. Because my birthday falls in August I was one of the youngest in my year and the rest of the girls in my were already 16. In fact, one of my closest friends was nearly a full year older as she was born in the preceding September. When my dad asked me if I felt that I was at a disadvantage because of the age gap I said, ”Are you kidding me?! It just means that I’m smarter because I’m almost a whole year younger!”

That is the kind of mentality I aim to instil in my children.

It seems that, whether young or old, we all need to be reminded from time to time that the things that make us different also make us special. And that something you may see as a limitation is better looked at as something that you have been able to overcome – and that makes you great!

Build self esteem in your children by celebrating the things that make your children different, whether its size, skin colour, academic ability, age or anything else. Whether widely perceived as a good thing or a bad thing, everything can be spun around and looked at in a positive light.

To build self esteem in your children, remember:

Our differences are undeniable, but they do not define who we are. Sarah Gassen.

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences. Audre Lorde.

You are what you believe yourself to be. Paolo Coelho.


Image credit : “Differences” by Carlos Porto –

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