I always do my best to provide a positive, supportive and loving environment for my children. If you’ve read anything I’ve posted over the Social Web you know that I celebrate them as often as possible. Yet, at times, their self-image suffers.
My son is especially verbal about it. If I ask him to stop touching something in a store, or stop screaming in the living room, he immediately defaults to a mantra of, “I’m stupid. I’m dumb. I hate myself.” This is usually accompanied by smacking or punching himself in the head.
It kills me to see this.
I know that some of it is the effects of the turbulent trip to single parenting, and much of it is the rest of the world not quite comprehending what Sensory Integration issues he experiences with his Autism. His formative years were certainly laden with getting in trouble for “bad behavior” from teachers, daycare providers, churches, day camps, sports teams, and at times his own immediate family.
I have tried so many responses to this self-deprecating mantras, hoping to “fix” his self-esteem. (Any mother would think she has this power, ha!) From logical reasoning – pointing out his report card grades so he clearly can’t think he’s stupid – to begging him not to think that to good ol’ fashioned Italian-Jewish mom guilt (it really hurts Mommy when you say those things!)… nothing seemed to budge these repetitions. I’ve even desperately threatened mild punishments! But then he would just think it and be afraid to say it, so clearly that isn’t a solution.
We are working on some EFT sessions about this, but in the meantime I had the most profound experience one day with him. I was walking him into school as usual and I asked him to stop lifting the back of my shirt. Out came the usual, “I’m stupid. I hate myself.” Instead of my normal knee-jerk “how many times do we have to go over this” response, magical words escaped my lips!
“Justin, I know you don’t always feel like you love yourself. I’ll tell you what. I’m going to give you some of MY love to keep, because you seem to be running low right now. See, Mommy’s love never runs out and my heart always makes more, so it’s ok if I give you some.”
I proceeded to take an imaginary energy ball from my heart and handed it to him, where he promptly swallowed it like his favorite video game character, Yoshi would. I told him that anytime he was feeling stupid he could most certainly have some more of my love, because I always have some to spare just for him.
I will never forget the spring in his step I witnessed as he walked to class. Perhaps a little donation was all he needed.