Mindful Parenting Exercise: The lesson that we are enough just as we are is such an important lesson to teach our children and to remind ourselves, as they struggle to figure out who they are and who they want to be. Adolescence, in particular, is a time when children are constantly judging themselves by comparing themselves to others or their own view of who they think they should be. We live in an age where children quantify their own worth by how many friends they have on Facebook or how many likes they have on Instagram. As parents, we need to encourage our children to look inside themselves to discover their own inherent worth and inner strength. We can do this by praising our children’s acts of love, compassion and kindness, and their willingness to try and take risks, rather than praising only their accomplishments. In doing so, we teach them to value the strength of their character rather than value only their achievements.
Exercise #1: Try the following exercise at home with your kids. At dinner, ask each person at the table to take a piece of paper and write down five things that they love about themselves. Emphasize that these are for their eyes only. See what happens. It is interesting to see how easy or how difficult this can be. Parents should participate as well. There are no right or wrong answers and there is no need to share. This is simply an exercise to get people to acknowledge their strengths and foster a positive self-image. Younger children may find this easy and may ask if they can list more than five things. It is the teenagers and adults who may have difficulty making this list. Encourage everyone to participate and take pride in the fact that they love things about themselves. Another variation that might be easier for some, is to make a list of what they did well that day, something(s) they can be proud of.
Exercise #2: Another wonderful family dinner exercise is to go around the table and have each person say something that they love about another family member. It can be as simple as loving the way someone laughs, loving the way they are tucked in each night, or loving the silly faces someone makes. Continue around the table as many times as you want, each time having one person speak about a different person at the table. This may foster some laughs, some love and some real boosts in self-esteem. It is also a practice in gratitude by recognizing the little things that others do each day that make us happy.