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How Will My Negative Self-Talk Impact My Son’s Self-Esteem?

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Recently I posted on my blog my attempt at putting a stop to self-loathing and negative self-talk. I shared that I wanted to do this now more than ever because I have a daughter. It wasn’t until a few days later (because I’m quick like that) that it donned on me… What about my son?!?

Why didn’t I think of him?

For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with self-esteem and body image issues. I spent far too much time and energy feeling bad about myself instead of just living my life comfortable in my own skin. It has taken a great deal of growing up, the love and endless support of a wonderful man, a healthy dose of therapy, and two beautiful babies, for me to start coming around.

Now that I’m a mom I want to be a good example of self-confidence for my daughter because I don’t want her to waste the same time and energy that I did. I know realistically I can’t control whether or not her fate will be similar to mine, but I can at least make a genuine effort to lead by example.

I have a bevy of ideas in my head as to how I will go about doing this for my daughter and a hopeful heart that it will actually work. But there’s that question again… What about my son?

I was shocked at myself for not even considering him regarding this topic. I guess I just automatically assumed self-confidence issues are strictly “girl problems.” But is that really the case? I’m sure there are a number of boys, young men, and even grown men that struggle with self-esteem and body image issues as much as women but they probably don’t talk about it as much. Or did I just make yet one more generalization?

My point is that I also want to be a good role model for my son. I want him to have self-confidence just as much as my daughter. I know from experience how I can positively impact my girl because I was once myself a young impressionable girl growing up. But with my son it’s a bit different. I don’t know what it’s like to walk in guys’ shoes.

Furthermore I wonder if my son will even look to me as a role model for this type of thing or if he will innately look to his father?

Regardless I just want my kids to be able to put positive energy toward things that really matter in their lives and not turn focus on a society-driven definition of who they are “supposed” to be and what they are “supposed” to look like. I don’t intend to hammer this into them and may I remind everyone my kids are 2 years old and 6 months old respectively. So we are currently focusing on potty training and introducing solids… respectively. But seeing that this topic is one that is very near and dear to my heart it is for sure something I think about often.

So what are your thoughts? How can I be a good role model for both my son and my daughter when it comes to self-esteem and body image? Boy moms out there, do you think about being this type of role model for your son or do you think dad will handle this one?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts. I guess if I get really lost I can always refer to my parenting handbook. I swear I ordered it months ago… must be lost in the mail.

Kendra is a full-time working mom to a precocious two-year old boy and six month old baby girl and wife to her long-time sweetheart. At “My Full-Thyme Life ( she writes about how she attempts to balance her cherished roles as wife, mom and key employee. 

Photo Credit

Kendra Scott
Author: Kendra Scott

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  • comment avatar Traci July 16, 2013

    I think this is something that parents everywhere are thinking about. With society slamming body image in our faces left and right, it is hard to escape. My husband and I have and 8yr old son and an almost 4yr old daughter, and we work full time with teenagers. Teens struggle so much with body image and acceptance, even to the point of hurting themselves because they feel they don’t “measure up” to what other people think of them, resulting a very jaded self image.

    Its important for parents…and everyone for that matter, to be active and eat foods that fuel our bodies instead of destroying them. And not because anyone else thinks you should look a certain way, but because we should love ourselves and our kids enough to practice the healthy lifestyle that we desire they live and enjoy. I can’t remember the source unfortunately, but recent studies have shown that young people alive now will not outlive their parents (on average) because of the sedentary lifestyle they are living. Between tv, video games, smart phones, internet, social media, etc… children and young people are just sitting around wasting their lives away. An epidemic of laziness is here in younger generations. If children see mom and dad getting out, being active, eating good food – not living on McDonalds, then they are likely to follow suit. Playing outdoors as a family, running and biking together, are all good things that kids love. Not to mention doing those things multiple times per week by yourself becomes such an outlet for us moms! Stress relief like no other and time to think without interruption. Just you and the path in front of you…

    So, yeah… I think its important we lead by example, and our kids will be active and eat right because its fun and because thats just the way we do life, not because they are trying to live up to culture’s expectations, but because we want to be the best version of ourselves…and its FUN!

    • comment avatar Kendra July 16, 2013

      Thanks for the comment, Traci! You are right, leading by example is a win-win for everyone!

  • comment avatar Kristin July 16, 2013

    I think it’s important for moms to model positive self-talk for all their kids. I think with boys, it’s especially important for them to not hear women disparaging whatever body part or their weight–because they may start to look at other women and think negatively about them for the same reasons, you know? I think, always, positivity is the way to go.

    • comment avatar Kendra July 16, 2013

      Kristin, you are so right about this. How I view myself will definitely shape how he views other women. Great point, thanks for sharing!

  • comment avatar Gretchen July 16, 2013

    I can so relate to this. My kids are now 13 (boy) & 12 (girl).

    And yes, boys do worry about that stuff to an extent. My son brought it up to me a couple times about a year ago. Seems that some girls (jr. high!) told him he was “fat.” But then he got involved in a bunch of sports – and hit a growth streak (he’s now taller than me!) which have thinned him out quite a bit. So maybe it is the propensity that boys are more involved in sports that we don’t generally worry about that? I don’t know.

    I have tried to focus more on “healthy” rather than a certain size or shape. With foods – the kids get excited to make their own personal dessert smoothies as long as they are fruit based. We play active games together. (Friday night dance parties remain a fave – we take turns picking songs and everyone must dance).

    I can’t say that I have all the answers – far from it. I can say thought that by all outward appearances. My kids are good with who they are and feel much better about themselves NOW than I EVER did.

    • comment avatar Kendra July 16, 2013

      Thank you for sharing, Gretchen. Can I join your Friday night dance party? That sounds like so much fun! 🙂 It just breaks my heart that kids can be so cruel to each other. I know it’s a part of growing up but still… I also like your idea of focusing on “healthy” vs. shape or size. I think that is a great point.

  • comment avatar Jessica July 17, 2013

    I have a 9 month old so I should start practicing now! But I think this applies to our husbands as well. My husband has IBS and is very skinny. I have a saying that he loses weight and I find it. His weight is brought up in conversation a lot among friends and family. He’s a pretty good sport but I am sure it gets old and frustrating.

    • comment avatar Kendra July 18, 2013

      Jessica, I bet you are right about this. My husband does have some insecurities which he’s shared with me but I know he doesn’t let them manifest the same way I do. I know he is going to be a great role model for both of our kids as I’m sure your husband is too!

  • comment avatar Jessica July 17, 2013

    I have a 9 month old so I should start practicing now! But I think this applies to our husbands as well. My husband has IBS and is very skinny. I have a saying that he loses weight and I find it. His weight is brought up in conversation a lot among friends and family. He’s a pretty good sport but I am sure it gets old and frustrating.