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“Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? I am afraid to tell you who I am, because, if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am, and it’s all that I have.” –Author John Powell

For the child perfectionist, just learning the alphabet can be an ordeal. Those first wobbly letters that come out of the pencil may be the correct shape, but because they don’t look like an adult’s practiced handwriting, it isn’t good enough. As time goes on, this self-critical nature can be bolstered by feedback, intentional or not, from other people.

Learning self-acceptance is perhaps one of the most important things a parent can teach a child. We can’t control how other people will respond to our children, but we can control our own words and actions. Helping children to identify their own emotions, and to accept them as real and valid, is a vital step in creating confident, functioning adults.

There are a number of ways you can help your child to understand that whoever they are, how ever they are, they are enough.

validate their emotions

When you tell your son or daughter there is nothing to be afraid of, you might think you are soothing them in a moment of need. According to psychologists, however, you may actually be telling them the emotion they are feeling isn’t acceptable. It’s important for children to understand that all of their emotions are real and valid.

This doesn’t mean you have to accept actions related to their emotions or approve of their decisions. It simply means that you understand what they are feeling and that you accept that those feelings are real.


Even if you disagree with what your child is saying, listening to what they say is important to helping them accept themselves. Parents are often seen as absolute authority figures, and when a child’s feelings are dismissed or overlooked, it can undermine how they feel about themselves.

let them know your love is unconditional

It may surprise you to learn that your child probably thinks there is something they can do to make you stop loving them. This could be because of how we act when they do something less favorable, like getting poor marks in school or wrecking your car. You can help by controlling your body language when speaking to them about things they’ve done wrong, and to hear their side of the story even when you disagree.

don’t compare them with other children

While you may not view it as a competition, every time you comment that Billy’s younger sister is getting better grades, or how much better behaved his best friend is, you may be inadvertently telling them that another person is more desirable than they are. This is especially painful for children who are adopted or may feel their position in the family is tenuous for some other reason.

As human beings, we all just want to know that we are enough. It isn’t necessary to get straight A’s in school, have a slim, supermodel figure, or win a track meet in order to be approved of. It’s not just children who feel this way. Your coworker, relative, and even that stranger on the street all want to be loved and cared for just as they are.

reading to encourage our kids that they are enough

Instill the powerful message of self-acceptance in your children with these heartfelt stories. Through characters who learn to love and accept themselves just as they are, these books teach young readers that they are enough, just as they are.

coloring fun

Please enjoy this free Tot Tails coloring page to help share this message with your child.

Download PDF • 143KB

share with us

We would love to hear your experiences and advice on empowering little ones to embrace their inherent worth, fostering self-esteem, resilience, and a positive self-image.. Are there any books or resources you feel can help? Thanks so much for reading and feel free to comment.


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