by Sarah Allbee, BYS Counselor

In February we all are bombarded with the red and pink reminders of Valentine’s Day. As parents, you may celebrate this holiday with your younger children, your partners, or other loved ones. The youth we see at BYS may be focusing their love and affection on their partners or close friends. This month, however, should also be about devoting some much needed time and attention to loving ourselves.

Our youth are learning how to love themselves through us. If we, their parents and counselors, can show them that self-love is not a self-centered thought pattern, but a necessary partner of self-care, then they are more likely to internalize this message: you deserve love too. If you haven’t before, it would be good to ask yourselves these questions:

  • How do I communicate love to myself? In words and actions.

  • What qualities do I love about myself?

  • How do I model self-love and self-care to my children?

  • How do my children provide self-love and self-care to themselves?

So often, our clients speak to themselves in unkind ways, perhaps this is because they are struggling with low self-esteem, have internalized voices around them, or maybe they are dealing with symptoms of depression. One thing we counselors may ask our clients to do is talk to themselves like they would to their best and most cherished friend. This usually naturally leads to a conversation about the difference between how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. That difference should not be so vast. When we respect and love ourselves, we are more likely to encourage others, including our children, to do the same.

Children notice when their parents encourage them to speak kindly to themselves and to not be so critical in their words and actions. It is by your example that your children learn how to practice self-love and self-care. This month, please take the time to self-reflect – is the amount of self-love you are giving yourself enough or is this an area that needs some attention? Self-love is a process that can always be improved upon and that everyone can benefit from practicing more in their lives. It benefits not only one’s self but those around us too, especially our children.