What is self-love and what prevents it?
Valentine’s day is all about expressing our love for others. But the source of this love has to come from inside us. In the present day, self-love is something that is becoming a vital requirement to maintain a healthy outlook on life. All of us struggle to attain this state of self-love, regardless of our age or gender. But the real problem arises when children think themselves to be unworthy of self-love. They may then grow to become individuals who are deprived of internal positivity. There may be multiple reasons for this, including the portrayal of fictional characters on media platforms which are looked upon as a representation of a social norm which cannot be met on a realistic level. This proves to be a great obstacle to children who should actually be celebrating their uniqueness. The comparison between themselves and the characters on media platforms is highly toxic.
In the case of autistic children, this scenario is not any different. That is, as long as children learn to love themselves for who they are, it does not matter whether they are normal or autistic. The difference of autism will seem very minor if all children learn to appreciate their precious selves.
How can you initiate this self-love in children?
In order to let our children imbibe this ability of self-love, we must help them take steps in realizing and coming to terms with their feelings. Undergoing emotional changes means we are growing, but these changes must be met with a positive outlook. By doing this, we can enable them to handle any kind of situations boldly. To begin with, you should make sure that your child does not develop an inflated ego early in life. This can be prevented by you by allowing your child to realize the blessings they have received in life. As a result, your child will most definitely become a more humble human being.
In a book about self-compassion, written by Kristen Noff, it is mentioned that the notion that self-love can make someone selfish and indifferent is false. The author is an associate professor in Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas. As the book is aptly named as Self Compassion – the Proven Power of Being Kind, it talks about the concept of self-talk, that is, the conversations that happen inside our head. We may often feel threatened by negative self-talk. To counter this attack, the body releases adrenaline in excessive amounts and thereby increasing stress levels. This can eventually lead to depression.
Positive Self Talk is Important
This effect can be easily countered with frequent positive self-talk. We all need a little affirmation from ourselves once in a while. Thinking of all the positive characteristics of oneself can boost confidence and also develop a sense of gratitude for the many good things around us, no matter how small. This is also applicable to children, whether autistic or not. The voice your child hears inside her head will eventually determine how he/she feels about himself/herself.
To help boost self-love, here are two activities that may be followed:
This is a written form of affirmation. Motivate your child to write down what he or she thinks is their best quality. These can be character traits like kindness, intelligence, patience and so on. Write these on another blank piece of paper with some space for each trait. Then, fill this space with a short description of an instance when your child displayed the possession of this trait. The positive tone of these sentences will be identified by your child. It will resonate in their minds and if they find it hard to see this, tell them about each one with more detail.
Repeat this behavior with other members of your family so that the positive opinions about your child can be received from many other perspectives. Other members like the child’s sibling might talk about how kind your child was in allowing his or her sibling during playtime. As this process continues, your child will definitely start forming a better image of themselves in their mind. A very positive form of energy will start to radiate from within them. In order to emphasize this, you can post these sheets of papers in your child’s room so that their thoughts are filled with this positive energy whenever they read it. You can further point them out when you’re putting them to bed.
Children who are affected with autism often think visually, in terms of pictures, rather than with words. So if the previous activity was more ineffective than what you expected, you can change to this activity. Search for pictures that depict a certain character, such as a picture of another child being kind to his or her friend. Take these from any source like magazines or newspapers and cut them out. You can also involve your child in this process by asking them to look for pictures that they think resembles their character or a picture of something or someone they aspire to be.
With this resource, you can create a board with all these pictures attached so that your child has a visual representation of all the affirmations you would like them to receive. This can also be treated as a bonding activity. You can understand your child better and observe what they think of themselves. It would also assure your child that you have an interest in knowing what his or her passion is.
This activity also can be done with all the family members. The positive energy you wish to see in your child can be spread to the entire family. Take turns to appreciate one family member each week and you will be able to see the positive changes quite apparently. These are just a few of the things that can be done by you. The possibilities are endless and do innovate in how you wish to spread the happiness and self-love.