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From day one when our child is born we care for them. We change their nappies, we feed them, we support them to sleep, we love them.

As they grow older we teach them to wipe their bottoms, we teach them how to use a knife and fork, we support them to play respectfully with others.

And then there comes a time when it is important for our child to accept responsibility to care for themselves where possible, as this allows them to learn the important skill of self-care. When this happens is entirely up to the child and where they are in their development.

For me, this has come to pass with my 8 year old daughter.

We have been having a constant struggle to get her to tidy her room, desk and toy room and to keep it consistently tidy.

We have tried many angles to support her to stop the struggle. We have gently asked her and reminded her, we have done it with her, we have done it for her, we have yelled at her, we have disciplined her, we have explained to her that her room is part of the house and as she is a part of this family so she needs to contribute by keeping her space tidy. There have been so many things we have tried but none of them have been consistently effective. Until recently…

I was hanging my daughter’s clothes out on the line last week after washing them and as I went to hang them out I could see stains on most of them. In total there were 14 items! As this was not the first time this occurred I felt instantly frustrated. But this time instead of staying frustrated I stopped for a moment and pondered on what this may mean.

The answer came to me.

My daughter was treating her clothes the same way she was treating herself and her space – with disregard.

She was relying on me to be able to soak the stains out rather than look after her clothes in the first instance.

I knew it was time for my daughter to take responsibility for herself in a way she had not been. It was time that she stopped looking to me or anyone else to do what she is completely capable of doing herself.

So we talked. I showed her all the stained clothes – piece by piece, stain by stain. She cried and wanted to walk away but I kept calling her back to face the situation. Afterwards I asked her to sit down and feel what was driving this destructive behaviour. She resisted for a while but eventually she shared with me that she didn’t like herself.

I was speechless… Firstly by her amazing level of honesty and secondly because I saw so much to truly appreciate in her. How could she not like herself?

But this explained a lot. Her resistance in keeping a tidy space, the fact that she did not value the clothes she was wearing, the struggle for her to stay consistent in her self-care habits. It was all becoming very clear.

She did not value herself and all the amazing qualities I see in her all the time (even when she is being a pain in the you know what!).

So we did an exercise together. I asked her to tell me how amazing she is deep within her heart. The part within that remains untouched by the outside world. The part that holds the gorgeousness of who she really is.

What came next was truly glorious. She began to tell me. I quickly knew that we needed to write what she was saying down on paper, so we did.

Here is the list she shared with me:

I am…

  • Tender
  • Loved
  • Safe
  • Delicate
  • Beautiful
  • Amazing
  • Joyful
  • Cared for
  • Included
  • Strong in voice
  • Strong love
  • Feel love
  • Spreading love

And then I added more…

  • Caring
  • Inclusive
  • Expressive
  • Lovely
  • Sensitive
  • Adorable
  • Sweet

We have affectionately dubbed this the Love Chart. And have since added more to this list…

  • Shining
  • Bright

And I am sure there will be even more to come.

What is key here with this exercise is that it allowed my daughter to feel her VALUE. And this has made an enormous difference in how she feels about herself.

She can now, not only feel how awesome she is, but has a tangible list of her qualities to refer to when she disconnects from this part within herself.

We have put the Love Chart on the fridge where she frequently reads it and we refer to it often when discussing various things, like problems she is having at school or how much she deserves to have a tidy space and unstained clothes. It is a constant reminder of her amazingness.

Since this incredible breakthrough there has been minimal struggle for her to keep her space tidy and to be responsible for her own self-care where possible. Of course there is no perfection being sought here but it is a start in her really being able to feel and claim her value in the world. Something that is going to support her for many years to come, especially through the challenges that life can have at times.

As mothers we know our children the best, we have looked deep into their eyes every day of their life so far, so we are more than capable of supporting them to understand their true value.

The value that lies deep within them and is not linked to what they do but is linked to who they truly are in essence.

It is also worthy to note that this is a great exercise for adults, as it allows us to really feel who we are underneath all that we do during the day (and night). It can bring us back to our essence, which can be so inspiring for all those around us as well as a truly fine example to our child.

Has anything similar worked for you? Please share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Great article! It reflects to all of us that it is not about the doing or an ideal way of acting but about being who we are. Allowing the space for our children to feel that and express that, is truly loving. This articles encourages a different way of having conversations with our children. It encourages adults to appreciate the wisdom of children and to truly support them to express it.

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  • How beautiful. What a wonderful approach. I wish all kids parents would take that kind of time with them. All kids should know their worth!

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  • Some ideas with genuine merit here, thank you.

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  • Some really super ideas here

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  • I can relate to this story with my second daughter and also tried many ways to ‘fix’ it. But this is a whole different approach and a great excercise and way to support children in all areas of life. Thank you Robyn Jones!

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  • support your child value themselves

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  • Truly inspiring Robyn thank you… knowing our true VALUE as you put it is absolute GOLD for a child and as you so rightly say, for us as adults too. Our world is so full of accolade for what we do, and rarely for who we are that this article is a breath of fresh air like no other.

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  • What a great article – thank you! I don’t have children but found it on Facebook and felt inspired enough to sign in to this site and comment. Not only is a ‘Love Chart’ essential for all, adults or children – the process Robyn described in interacting with her child to come to this point is love in action.

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  • What an amazing way to help your daughter build her self esteem.

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  • I love this article and the simplicity of what is shared from this mother and her willingness to look deeply into what was going on for her daughter. The LOVE chart is especially inspiring, and i can see how needed it is, to take the time to explore such angles. Our kids are worth it, and so are we.

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  • This is an awesome blog, it is lovely to read of a mother and daughter communicating in this way with one another. It feels as if the child and parent truly see and appreciate one another. This is an interaction that is so supportive and has the potential to build a foundation of true self acceptance and love within a child which can support them so much in later life. And yes as you say it works for adults as well! Thank you.

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  • the value and space for kids childrens

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  • This is just beautiful. Giving this one a go.

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  • I love it Robyn, this is amazing, thank you for sharing. Of course disrespect for one’s space, clothes, others etc. equates to disrespect for one’s self yet I’ve not yet considered this with my children. Reading this though, I can note it in both my boys so time to investigate further. Great inspiration here from your own experience, to share with us all. It’s precious. It takes a village right and we all need a hand or a lovely reminder and you’ve given it right here. Grand starting point to look at my own values first.


    • So true. If we have connected and know our own value we can then support our kids and others to connect to theirs. Go for it!

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  • Robyn this is such a fabulous article and an exercise I am going to do with my son. It feels really supportive to have the list to come back to, so that whatever happens in his day – he can come back to this and connect with his qualities. Simply gorgeous.


    • Thank you. What I found key with this exercise is that I supported my daughter to feel for herself why she was so amazing. I supported her by giving her an example of someone else and their amazing qualities and she then spent time by herself connecting to what her amazing qualities are. What is interesting is in the example of qualities I shared, a lot were different to the ones she ended up sharing about herself. This goes to show that each one of us has a unique make up of qualities, not one of us is identical in what we offer the world through our amazingness.

    Reply

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