The smallest mistake just happened: my 6-year-old got mad about his racetrack falling apart and in the heat of the moment threw a matchbox car in my direction.
It didn't hit me. I wasn't even mad.
My reaction was an annoyed, "Hey!"
And that was all it took. No yelling needed.
Tears, self-judgement, and the awful statement came out that threw daggers into my heart,
"I must be the worst kid in the world!"
(Or swap in another variation of this: No one likes me, this is the worst day ever, I can't do anything right, etc)
Total honesty - this isn't easy. It KILLS me to hear my kid say this, and it's a challenge to not instantly blame myself.
Parents, we're conditioned to take the hit.
My thoughts were all over the map:
"what did I do wrong?"
"how did this happen?"
"I've ruined everything"
"I must be the worst mother in the world!"
"I give up"
"I can't do this"
"He's such a whiner"
"I don't know what to do"
"Why don't I know what to do?"
"Is he being bullied?"
"How does he even have friends if he acts like this?"
Anything from my own self-judgement pity party to pointing fingers and blaming him (gee, wonder where he gets it from??)
Any good parent looks at themselves and wonders if they somehow created this shit storm because kids are helpless and totally reliant on you. They look to you, they trust you, they copy you, they watch your every move. It MUST be you that's ruined them, right?
And while it's heartbreaking to hear them say stuff like this, it's actually great that you now know they feel this way.
Because when we know, we can do something about it.
The feeling of not being good enough is the deepest fear we can have. If we're not good enough, then we don't measure up, we're outcast from the ones we love and not accepted, and ultimately we end up alone.
Emotional pain and rejection is as palpable in our brains as physical pain. Your mind doesn't know the difference.
That's why breakups and estranged relationships can seem so hard to get over.
So when your child is in pain from thinking they're not good enough, they're simply looking for a feeling of worthiness.
The trick here is to help them separate their worthiness from any kind of achievement or success they have in life. Right now, they think self-worth and success are the exact same thing.
Which is why when your kid does what mine was doing, it makes no sense.
You know you love your child no matter what. I've told my kid he could straight up go to jail and I would still love him just the same. You love him or her for who they are, simply because they are HERE and they're breathing. They belong to YOU. The end. And nothing could change that.
Then somewhere along the way they associated achievement with being good enough. It starts with simple praise and standard school experiences. "Good job" "You're so smart!" "Way to make that goal!" "You only missed 2" "A+"
(I'll cover why these are problematic later)
And we forget that accomplishments at school, in sports, and even at home can unintentionally send the wrong messages.
Changing their thinking in the end requires us as parents to change how we show up for ourselves and for our kids.
It requires us to think about what we're saying, why we're saying it, and understanding what we're teaching them.
I've had to change a bajillion of my own behaviors, so please know you're not alone. This is why I'm talking about this, because it drives me insane that there's no resources for parents anywhere.
1 in 8 kids are living with anxiety. 1 in 4 teenagers are dealing with it too. 80% of them aren't getting treatment.
Because parents have no direction on how to handle it.
And that's not ok. Completely unacceptable. Which is why I started this movement to fill a gap and get you the resources you need to help your kids.
WHO AM I AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
I'm not a licensed psychologist, teacher, or counselor who can tell you exactly what your kid needs from a book.
(And so far in my experience, the people who should have answers for us often don't)
But I am a mom of two kids - a first grader and a toddler - and a recovering perfectionist, people-pleaser and low self-worth overcomer. I've spent 3 years researching this and implementing changes that actually work.
I lived it for over 3 decades, and when it started showing up in my son (and I couldn't find any helpful resources), I did the only logical thing:
I made my own. Which you can find HERE.
But also, it was a call to arms. I know I'm not the only one trying to help my kid. Parents everywhere are struggling.
You don't have to anymore. I'm here to help.
I know how hard it is to watch your child in pain and not have a clue what to do, hoping that he or she will get through it and somehow learn through life how to cope.
And they will.
But there's ways to help them. Not so it'll be easier and they'll be delicate entitled flowers, but so they'll have the right tools to come out on top when life gets REALLY hard.
So they won't crumble.
Or fall into depression.
Or give up on their own potential.
I remember my husband had this terrible job a few years ago.
He worked for a company that was a mess internally. They made tons of money but they had crazy expectations that couldn't be met.
It wasn't because their expectations were unreasonable. It was because they simply weren't communicated, but then they'd get mad when you couldn't read their minds.
He was clueless half the time simply because he couldn't see how to navigate the minefield. It was like they kept job expectations a big secret.
I remember when he came home saying "It's like they've set me up to fail. I can't get anything right. I don't even know what they want, and they won't tell me when I ask."
He was depressed, hopeless, felt defeated and stuck in a place that he was doomed to disappoint.
THAT is how your child feels when they don't have the skills they need to overcome these internal doubts and negative thoughts. They have zero tools to handle overwhelm, anxiety, and external pressure.
Hell, most adults don't even have those tools.
And until now, no one has provided them.
I started a community to continue this conversation. It's totally free, and I'd love to have you join in if this is something that speaks to you and you want more help with.
I also create stuff and send out more resources via email. Put your email in the gold sign-up boxes floating around and get some great freebies right away.
The great news about all of this? Is that it's reversible.
The mind is a flexible place, and with the right strategies, all that negative thinking can be undone, making room for resilience, tenacity, problem-solving, and a bigger "can do" attitude that will shape your child for a lifetime.
It's gonna be ok. I've got your back.