I’m back today to talk about self-acceptance in our children. It’s easy to forget that it’s vital for us to actively foster this essential trait during childhood – a scary thought! But perhaps self-esteem books for kids can help play a role in teaching our little ones their worth.
Self-acceptance is of huge import, forming the building blocks of who our youngsters become, the way they perceive themselves and, critically, how much they value themselves too.
This ultimately translates into the treatment they both expect and invite from others, and largely comes from how we as parents interact with our children: the way we speak to them becomes their internal voice.
No pressure then!
Importance of Promoting Self-Esteem in Children
The stresses and strains of day to day life make it all too easy to fall into negative cycles and I’m the first to admit that I sometimes find myself using unhelpful language which will not be promoting Pixie’s self-esteem. I’m definitely guilty of asking questions such as ‘why would you do that?’ – which may seem innocuous enough, but undoubtedly has the subtext of letting her know she’s behaved in an unsatisfactory way.
I’m working on biting my lip because I’m well aware that shaming our babies is harmful and counterproductive – besides which, it’s never actually my intention.
Of course, though the way we discipline our children is greatly influential in terms of their self-acceptance, it’s still just one component. Being ‘different’ in some way can also have a huge impact.
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As an example, I sustained extensive scarring on one arm as a toddler. With the very best of intentions, my dad told me throughout childhood that if I was unhappy with the way it healed, when I became an adult I could have an operation to improve the appearance. The narrative really affected me: what I heard was that my scar made me inadequate. As a child I felt ugly and grossly self-conscious, and it took me a very long time to accept myself as I was.
I don’t at all blame my dad for my lack of self-worth as a kid – that was just one aspect that contributed which happens to neatly illustrate the impact others’ behaviour can have – particularly that of our parents. Of course any obvious difference from our peers, physical or otherwise, is going to pose an obstacle to be overcome.
Can Self-Esteem Books for Kids Help?
The book I’m discussing today is Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival, and it’s great as a generic introduction to self-acceptance.
The book tells the story of Norman, who one day grows a pair of wings and feels the need to hide them from everybody, even his parents. He tries to fit in by wearing a coat at all times to conceal his new wings. This makes him miserable as there are lots of things he’s unable to do, and friends start to notice that he no longer joins in with them.
I can’t ignore the word play in the title – I love a pun, and though it will likely be lost on young children, it’s nonetheless rather clever.
Despite Norman’s ‘disfigurement’ being a physical one, with it also being an unrealistic difference the storyline is quite abstract. With that in mind, I expect that many children, especially with guidance, will be able to extrapolate and apply Norman’s situation to other scenarios too, such as a physical disability, dyslexia, autism, or even racial/gender/religious differences.
Eventually Norman’s parents encourage him to remove his jacket, and he decides to be brave and shows courage by doing so.
I love that by the end, the book clearly celebrates Norman’s difference, and shows that diversity can be positive.
This book makes an excellent resource for children; both for navigating differences of their own, and also in terms of fostering tolerance and compassion for those around them who may be outside of their recognised ‘norm’.
While Perfectly Norman deals with the subject of self-acceptance in quite a general way, I certainly aim to be looking at books dealing in more specific differences in due course – so please let me know if you have a favourite you’d like to see here!
Do you have any other recommendations of self-esteem books for kids and those promoting self-esteem?
Check out more book reviews and recommendation in this series in the Moral Story Books for Children Index.