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Self-Esteem & Pizza???

Self-Esteem & Pizza.jpeg

If we agree that every child is unique, then we have to agree that his or her psychological makeup is unique, as well. So, instead of discussing self-esteem from a “boy” or a “girl” perspective, it’s imperative, in this wonderful day and age of embracing diversity, to look at self-esteem from an “individual” perspective.

Funny enough, I usually relate the topic of self-esteem to pizza…that’s right, pizza! For those of you who enjoy eating this delicious dish, it’s highly unlikely that we all share the same “tastes” in toppings. I’m sure many of you enjoy a variety of veggie toppings on your pizzas, while others, myself included, prefer that love-it or leave-it combination of pepperoni and anchovies. Our various “tastes” which influence our choice of pizzas are very similar to our “beliefs” which influence our choice of sports and activities. In other words, the sports or activities that our children play say a great deal about their beliefs which can actually be used to help them build their self-esteem.

Now, imagine, if you will, craving your favourite pizza, but being forced to eat one that you could not stomach at all. This happens quite regularly with our children too when we sign them up for certain activities. In fact, on many occasions, we place our children in activities that really don’t support their positive self-beliefs or “I-am messages.” I-am messages basically refer to the beliefs that we carry around in our heads all of the time. You may have heard of them being referred to as “self-talk,” but regardless of the term that is used, they reflect the way that we truly feel about ourselves. I-am messages can either be positive or negative, and the chances of them being positive dramatically increase when children approach athletic activities with the intention of having fun, developing skills, and improving themselves.

So, how do you go about finding out what your children’s I-am messages are? Well, the trick is to look at their current behaviour and make educated guesses about where they are “at” from a mental perspective. For example, when you think about your child, you may ask:

“Does my child tend to isolate him or herself from others?”

If the answer is “yes,” then chances are he or she believes “I am alone.” “I am alone” in this case is a negative I-am message since the isolation that comes with this belief stems from being unable to socialize well with others. It’s a message that is quite different from the more positive “I am independent” message, which reflects self-care and self-sufficiency rather than avoidance from social settings. If your child possesses the “I am alone” message, he or she would benefit greatly from participation in “team sports” and “pseudo-team sports” (see all of the categories of sports below according to the book entitled The New Game Plan – Using Sports to Raise Happy, Healthy, and Successful Kids – ISBN: 978-1-4251-1281-3). But remember, it is still important to nurture the “I am independent” belief through healthy participation in “individual sports:”

Team Sports

I am social
I am contributing
I am competent
I am interacting well with others

Examples: basketball, hockey, soccer, football, rugby,
volleyball, field hockey, and  lacrosse

Pseudo-Team Sports (*BRAND NEW CATEGORY*)

I am part of a group
I am capable
I am communicating well with others

Examples: baseball, softball, cricket, curling, doubles tennis, team golf, and swimming relay

Individual Sports

I am self-reliant
I am independent
I am responsible

Examples: golf, singles tennis, bowling, running, racquetball, figure skating, squash, downhill skiing, snowboarding, gymnastics, javelin

Now, on the flip side, you may ask something along the lines of:

“Does my child lack independence or self-reliance?”

If the answer to this question is “yes,” then your child likely believes “I am incapable,” and individual sports will play an important role in his or her development. The point of all of this is to show you that the decisions you make regarding your child’s participation in activities and, consequently, their self-esteem, should be based on their current belief system in order to be effective. In fact, intentional participation in different types of sports and activities is the key to establishing a healthy balance in life.

Let’s re-visit our pizza scenario for a moment. If we were on a pizza-only diet and were only able to order one type of pizza, would we achieve the nutritional balance that our bodies needed? Of course we wouldn’t. The same principle applies to our children’s athletic participation. The more types of sports that they play, the more well-rounded they will become. Before placing your next pizza order, feel free to review our list of “ingredients” or signs representing healthy self-esteem in our children:  

Top 7 Ingredients Of Healthy Self-Esteem

  1. Task Initiation:
    Your child initiates new tasks and leads activities with siblings and friends

  2. Independent Thinking:            
    Your child voluntarily offers opinions and engages in discussions with others

  3. Conflict Resolution:                 
    Your child resolves conflicts and cooperates well with others

  4. Effective Communication:       
    Your child expresses feelings in the moment

  5. Contentment:                           
    Your child appears pleased with his or her own effort and with life in general

  6. Increased Participation:      
    Your child is more involved in sports, games, programs, and activities

  7. Relationship Building:             
    Your child is skilled at making friends at school, in the neighbourhood, on the team, and so forth