Do you want to raise kids who are happy and kind?

Sally and her sister more recently. Picture: Sally White

Sally and her sister more recently. Picture: Sally White - Credit: Sally White

A Norfolk mum, teacher and blogger shares some parenting hacks on how to raise children who like themselves (and others will like too.)

I was raised by hippy parents and although I railed against them for nearly two decades, I now realise their parenting gave me one great gift: self-esteem. I wasn't allowed to watch telly, we didn't have Barbies, my mum didn't count calories, and what we looked like was never commented on unless it was to say: 'You've got a lentil on your face.' Although I think perhaps my much-loved aged ps did take it a little too far, they got some of it right. Here's my hacks for how to raise young 'uns who like themselves.

Deeds not looks


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Praise what they've done, not what they look like or have achieved. Try 'That was kind' instead of 'I love your dress' or 'You tried really hard' rather than 'You ran the fastest.' Children need to know that their value comes from how they behave and treat others. Kindness isn't based on ability - it's an even playing field. I ask my (far from perfect) boys to tell me something kind they've done each day. They can't always think of something but it sends the message that that's what's of value. (I totally still want them to be the best and fastest and cleverest and most handsome but I try and keep that dark competitive side surpressed, and totally think they are these things anyway).

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Speak to yourself kindly

I call myself all sorts of names when I've lost my keys for the eightymillionth time but only in my head (mostly). If we speak to ourselves in a critical voice, we teach our children that that's the norm. I don't ever huff about what I see in the mirror and I never moan about my body - not because it's perfect but because perfect doesn't exist. Teach them that what they look like is the least interesting thing about them, and the least interesting thing about you. Unless you're Tom Hiddleston in which case it is the most interesting thing about you (and do get in touch - I'm free on Wednesdays).

Let them make mistakes

I am horrendous at this. I can't bear to see them struggle, But resilience is a big part of self-esteem. They need to know that they can make mistakes and fail at things and still be loved.

Let them be different

I was the only kid in homemade school uniform and Dr Martens in a world of patent leather shoes and white socks. Oh what I would have given to go to Brownies (mum wouldn't let 'a daughter of hers' swear allegiance to God and the Queen because she didn't rate either of them!) and what I would have given to watch Neighbours! But it served me well. I may not have been the most popular girl, but I knew who I was and it taught me that true friendship is people who love you despite your home knits.

Ban the 'C' word and the 'F' word

For all my fluffy, hippy upbringing, I am MILITANT about this. Children should not hear about calories unless it's a science lesson. They shouldn't hear the word 'fat' either. And no food is 'naughty'. Come on, people. Food is fuel and a joy and delicious or disgusting but not 'naughty' or 'full of calories.' I think discussing diets in front of small ears is worse than swearing - and not just because I've got an uncontrollable potty mouth. Let's instill a healthy attitude towards food in the next generation and never say the words 'clean eating' to me because I will faint with boredom and need a Tunnocks teacake to revive myself.

Love them

Obviously.

Come over to my blog www.wifeofawigwearer.com to read all about my perfect children who have sky-high self-esteem but are also modest and unassuming and well-mannered (snort!) Or see unfiltered photos of our perfect home on Insta at @wifeofawigwearer

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