Take the Time Today to Increase the Self Esteem of Your Family Members

Families and friendship go hand in hand.
Families and friendship go hand in hand. | Source

I Love You, Too!*

“Luf oo Mommee!” my toddler exclaimed as she planted a fish kiss on my cheek.

“I love you, too, honey.” I replied, giving her a little pat on the diaper as she scooted off to play. There is so much to do and so little time. When will she ever grow up? I complained.

“Oh, mommy I love you!” said my preschooler as she thanked me for the latest batch of chocolate chip cookies.

“I love you, too! Sweetheart!” I replied, hoping that one more cookie would not contribute to too many cavities. One day she will be baking these herself, I determined.

“Mom, can I play with my friends today?” my youngster pleaded on the phone.

“Oh, I suppose,” I replied.

“Gee, thanks, I love you, Mom.”

“And I love you, too!” I said with a note of hesitation in my voice. When will my child stay home for just one day? She isn’t here when I need her! I mused.

“Bye mom! I love you!” my teen shouted as she ran out the back door.

“I love you, too!” I echoed as I pushed the door shut that she had left standing open. How quickly she recuperated from last night’s heated discussion, I noticed.

“Hi, Mom! Oh, how I have missed you! I love you!” My college sophomore rushed to greet and hug me.

“I love you, too, it’s so good to have you home again!” I replied with tears brimming in my eyes. "You have been gone so long! Let’s sit and visit for a while," I ventured.

“Mom, I can’t believe this is happening! I love you so much!” my darling daughter said as she put on her veil and straightened her wedding dress.

“I love you, too!” I said, but my thoughts were echoing, Where has the time gone, it was just yesterday that you were small!

Why is a family so important?

Every family is different. Each has its own culture, personality, socioeconomic issues, and technological savvy. Yet even with all of these differences, families are defined by the fact that they live together as a group. Every day, they rub shoulders and in the process, affect one another in dramatic ways. These communications, whether verbal or non-verbal, have the potential of doing enormous good, or causing harm.

Validation check points are key times when family members are most vulnerable and internalize what is said and done by others into their core feelings of self worth. These include:

  • First contact in the morning
  • During meals
  • When leaving home
  • During decision making
  • Arriving home after being gone
  • Following a difficult experience
  • Last contact at night

The first contact in the morning often sets the tone of the day. A simple "Good Morning" says, "It is good to see you. I hope your day goes well." This may mean the difference between seeing the previous night as a good one, or finding something to complain about.

Words of greeting and appreciation are vital. A smile is the simplest act of service one can give when in the presence of a family member. It brings a ray of sunshine, and is most often met with a return smile.

Meal times are critical to the development of family camaraderie. Regular group meals where family members work together on preparation and clean up teach vital skills as well as spawning feelings of friendship. Stressful meal times lead to indigestion and poor sleep. Meal times with pleasant conversation feed a person physically, as well as mentally and spiritually.

Our families are our most important asset.
Our families are our most important asset.

When leaving the home, a person takes with them the last words that were spoken and integrates them into the forthcoming activities. When arriving back, they are processing what has recently occurred from the short to long-term memory. A pleasant greeting or a "Tell me about your day" keeps these memories in proper perspective.

Times of difficulty and decision making are often filled with self-reflection. Positive contact with family members during these times solidifies feelings of worth. A word of encouragement may make the difference between accomplishment of a goal and giving up. Listening helps the person to process what they are dealing with, facilitating problem solving and the making of plans for a better future.

The last words a person hears at night may determine the tenor of sleep and the ability of the person to process the events of the day. Hugs and kisses given generously help one settle down and relax for the night, and keep sleep disturbances to a minimum.

Understanding how our family's needs fit into our lives together helps us to meet them.
Understanding how our family's needs fit into our lives together helps us to meet them. | Source

Messages that build self-esteem in the family

According to Maslow's Hierarchy of human needs (see diagram above), the most important need we have is physiological, or food, water, and sleep. Next, is the need for safety. We want to know that we will be warm, safe, and protected. The third level of need is for love and belonging. These are followed by esteem and self-actualization. All of these needs are met within the family unit. Families that are able to get beyond physiology and safety are able to use validation check points effectively.

Research has shown that self-esteem comes from two different sources, how we feel about ourselves (who we are, "Be" messages), and what we think other people feel about us (what we do, "Do" messages). Using validation check points to send positive messages allows self-esteem to grow and flourish.

“Be” messages build bonds of trust. They give the assurance that the family member values the person and demonstrate unconditional love through affection, kindness, and active concern for the other’s welfare. Family members know each other intimately and are in a key position to give these messages regularly and generously.

Once a person knows that they are valued by another, “Do” messages are able to be accepted and internalized. They say, “I like what you are doing, and I want you to do it again in the near future.” When one rubs the other’s back and it feels good, a “Do” message would be, “Oh that feels good.” Another example would be a compliment after a meal, such as, “That lasagna was great.”

Expressions of gratitude or appreciation, praise for a job well done, acknowledgement of talent and ability, observations of tasks completed, and passing on information gained from credible resources are examples of “Do” messages. They build on the foundation of trust previously laid, and allow family members to inspire, strengthen, and uplift one another.

Examples of positive and negative "Be" and "Do" messages:

Positive "Be" Messages
Negative "Be" Messages
Positive "Do" Messages
Negative "Do" Messages
It is good to see you.
Cut it out!
I like the way you were kind to her.
What a stupid thing to do!
Good Morning.
Duh!
You look nice today.
Keep your mouth shut.
I appreciate you.
Don't be stupid.
Thanks for your help with the dishes.
I can't believe you just did that!
See you later!
I didn't ask for you.
Have a great day!
Keep your grubby hands off.
Tell me about your day.
Stay away.
I like it when you do that.
Go take a hike!
Welcome home!
You'll never amount to anything.
I appreciate your input.
Keep it up and you'll be sorry!
Let me give you a hug.
You are so dumb.
Keep up the good work.
Don't cry over spilled milk!
I love you.
I don't like you.
You did it!
Now, look what you've done!

Using positive “Be” and “Do” messages during validation check points, we can build our family's feelings of self-esteem. The benefits are far-reaching, for them, and for us, for our emotional health!

©2012 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. This hub is an Emotional Survival Resource. For more information on emotional survival and emotional health, see www.denisewa.com.

*Poem "I Love You, Too" written by Denise W. Anderson

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Comments 11 comments

eHealer profile image

eHealer 4 years ago from Las Vegas

Excellent hub with good messages for us all. We tend to take our family members for granted, and it's nice to get a reminder once in a while to appreciate them more. Our dynamics are such an important part of how we grow old together and stay bonded to our past. Beautiful hub and great lessons. Thanks Denise!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks for reading eHealer. Families are the basic unit of our society and the most important people in our lives. Sometimes we don't realize how precious they are to us until after they are gone. Taking time regularly to let them know how much we love and care about them brings greater feelings of gratitude and appreciation.


nurseleah profile image

nurseleah 3 years ago from West Virginia

This article is excellent! You provide a lot of readily applicable tips and techniques. Isn't it interesting how some of these things come very naturally to some people but not to others? For example, my sister and I grew up in the same household, but the way we respond to people is completely opposite. She provides lots of negative criticism, while I am typically much more positive and give lots of praise. I definitely think nature and nurture play a role in this. She is the oldest child; I am the youngest and was the last grandchild for the grandparents that were most instrumental in our lives. While we grew up in the same household, she being 3 years older received more verbal redirection and discipline. I had the opportunity to learn from her mistakes and watch the outcomes of interactions with our parents before I was in many situations. Also, although we were unaware until we were nearly teenagers, we have different biological fathers. She did not meet her biological father until she was a young teenager, and I did not meet him until I was a late teen. Wow! That was a shock to the system. The two of them are very similar in their communication styles. He is very direct, blunt, and often harsh, just as she is. I am more like our mom in communication style--providing examples of "good" behavior vs. "bad" behavior and conveying love even when a loved one engages in a "bad" behavior. I also have a lot of the fun-loving traits of my dad, and she has expressed that she wishes she had more of that. On the other hand, she is more responsible and disciplined than I am. Her house is neater and more organized; she keeps to a routine better; she works out regularly; etc. Neither is wrong or right, better or worse, but very different nonetheless. Regardless, the techniques you describe in this article, even if they don't come naturally, can be learned and incorporated into day-to-day life. Thank you for sharing!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks for your input, nurseleah. It is interesting how people, even in the same households with the same parents, have different perspectives of their own experiences. Our children are a prime example. The older four were raised primarily by me when my husband was away working. They are much more like me in their philosophies of life and parenting. On the other hand, our younger three children were raised primarily by my husband while I was away at school and work. They have adopted his philosophy of life. It is interesting to see their differences in interaction. At the same time, we do our best to help them be successful in life.


nurseleah profile image

nurseleah 3 years ago from West Virginia

Absolutely!


MDavisatTIERS profile image

MDavisatTIERS 3 years ago from Georgia

I really appreciate this article. We can sometimes get so caught up in the - what did you do today - to forget to find out how they are feeling, or to use motivational open-ended questions to interact more.

Your excellent use of a table for "Examples of positive and negative "Be" and "Do" messages" makes it easier to distinguish the two, but just as importantly, alerts us to the positive and negative messages involved in each type. Again, thank you for an excellent article.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

I appreciate your comments MDavisatTIERS. Feelings are important to family members, and when we indicate that we are listening to them, we take that into account. We help them to feel wanted and loved, no matter what they are going through at the moment. It has been my experience that the "Do" and "Be" messages are vital to helping family members feel that they are an integral part of a bigger picture. Thanks for reading!


AliciaAH profile image

AliciaAH 24 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

I really enjoyed your article. I have 3 boys and I am always trying to learn healthier ways of raising them. I didn't have the best role models growing up and my goals has been to be a good mother. I am aware of positive reinforcements and building positive self-esteem. Raising a family is hard work but you do your best, keep an open mind & heart. I look forward to reading more article relating to this topic : )


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 24 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, Alicia. It is tough when you are trying to do something different than they way you were raised. It means learning from your own experience and the experiences of others, as well as study from the "experts!" You may want to check out some of my other parenting articles: Teaching Children Responsibility and Respect, Roles and Responsibilities in the Family, and How to Change Your Children's Behavior. If you see something that you would like more information on, let me know via e-mail, and I will work on a new article.


AliciaAH profile image

AliciaAH 24 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

Thank you so much Denise, I will read those articles you mentioned because my goal is to stop the dysfunctional patterns and create healthier ones. Like you mentioned, it's tough trying to do something different but I'm grateful for the resources that are out there (such as your articles) and most importantly for me, having the awareness that I needed to make changes. I look forward to your new article :)


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 24 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Your on the right track, Alicia. I'm sure that you will do well with your growing family. Take care and I look forward to hearing from you again!

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