This subject is close to my heart. I was taught to negative self-talk to myself at a very young age and now I am seeing the same issue with my four-year-old. Honestly, the first time I heard her say something negative about herself (and I knew exactly whom it came from) I wanted to freak out, confront that person and say the usual “How dare you!”, but the Holy Spirit restrained me. Why? Because I wasn’t trusting God with my daughter.
We are told to trust God with all things; our work, our money, our leisure, our own life, our husbands, our parents, and the toughest of all, at least for me…our children. The first time your little one says they are ugly or dumb or not good enough for something it can feel like someone is ripping your heart out of your chest and stomping on it. And of course, the devil uses that moment almost immediately to defeat you, saying things like “This is your fault” and “How could you have let this happen?” and “What kind of parent are you?” Don’t listen to it! You didn’t do anything wrong if you’re not the one speaking death over your children. If you are and they learned it from you, then you need to check yourself immediately and learn to speak more life into them. But if not, then there are a few things you can do to help build their self-esteem up again.
The first thing to do is give those children to God. Easier said than done, I know, but necessary for the whole family. God’s plan is going to unfold whether you fight it or not, worry about it or not, lose sleep over it or not. His will will be done. End of story. Their days are already written. Of course, our decisions go into that will so you are not just sitting by idly and letting them make bad choices and say terrible things about themselves. God knows you and He knows your heart. He knew before you were even born what you would say to your child when they called themselves ugly, dumb, or not good enough and the outcome of you being there for them. That is part of the story too, so don’t give up. Just remember, they are also children of God and He loves them more than you ever could, which is a whole mighty lot!
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope.”Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
That verse is meant just as much for your little ones as it is meant for you.
Another thing you can do is counteract that negative talk fed into them, or that they came up with on their own, with some positive talk. When my daughter grabbed a brush and started aggressively raking it through her beautiful bouncy curls I stopped her and asked what she was doing. I’d never seen her do that before. She said “I have to brush out these curls or they’ll be crazy and goofy-looking.” There’s only one person I know who says things look goofy and it’s not me, ladies. But instead of a big confrontation that would have created strife between me and that person, I spoke positivity and life back into Charlotte right then and there. I told her that her curls were beautiful. I reminded her of all the times we were out and everyone commented on how lovely her curls were. I told her she shouldn’t listen to what people say because it’s what’s on the inside that’s most important and she is beautiful inside and out. She put the brush down and hugged me. It was a great moment. The next time she went to the library she picked out a book about a little girl with crazy curly hair and made me read it to her every night that week. I haven’t seen her attack her curls since and I haven’t heard her say those things about herself either.
Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
This is where memorizing Bible verses comes in handy and can make a huge difference in a child’s life, even early on when they’re toddlers. The earlier we start teaching our kids to reject the ways of this world and live God’s way and to listen to what He says and not what men say, the better off they will be if they choose to listen. As parents, we have the greatest influence over our children and the voice inside their head. What do you want that voice to be saying when they are in high school trying out for a team sport, or in college studying for their finals, or when they are interviewing for their dream job in the real world? Whatever you hope they will be thinking about themselves in those moments, start speaking that into their lives today! Little girl/boy, you are so brave! So smart! So fun! So creative! So interesting! So strong! So lovable! All those things and more!
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
Another thing to do is pray your heart out. God is listening and He is taking your prayers into account just as much as your actions. When God planned all our days and all the days of our kids, those prayers He knew we would pray were taken into account! It’s crazy to think about and almost boggles the mind to think of how time works for God possibly, which is so different from how it works for us. It’s impossible to figure out exactly, but all I know is what the Bible tells me and that is that our prayers matter. Our prayers change the world and the people around us and ourselves.
And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”1 John 5:15 (NLT)
It might not be how we imagined He would answer our prayers, but He always answers.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)
I hope you’ve found some inspiration and encouragement for your day and for your children! We love to hear from you so please leave your comments, stories, or testimonies below. Have a wonderful day!