Growing up, at home, I sought my parents approval. At school and college, I needed validation for my hard work. When I started working, I wanted my seniors to appreciate my efforts. A pat on the back, a gold medal, a good appraisal followed by a decent hike in my take home pay were all indications of bring approved of. I was hooked. My self worth was inextricably linked to my achievements and every little setback or failure caused me feel worthless. If I don't achieve, I am a failure.
I have heard these words and seen them in deeds, so many times. I wish it wasn't so. So many of us have been scarred by this one thing that was drummed into us in early childhood. Unconscious comparisons with the better behaved cousin or the high achiever classmate by our parents, teachers and society, at large, meant that every average Joe was not approved of..........and accepted.
One had to be a somebody to be successful. Why? Aren't all children specially gifted. One may be better at academics, the other at art, another at social skills and someone else at coming up with out of the box ideas. Each one has a unique talent. And it is job of a good parent and teacher to help the child find it.
The first step to that is the acceptance of the child for who she/he is, with all the seemingly odd tendencies and quirks. This acceptance can go a long way in building self esteem and self worth. This acceptance also serves as the reserve strength to tackle difficult life phases, inevitable failures and other setbacks. It provides the child and later his adult self, the encouragement to continue walking optimistically on his life journey reaching for his goal. And because his self worth is not linked to someone else's approval, he accepts life's ups and downs as inevitable companions of his journey. His self worth remains intact and he accepts himself, with his strengths, weaknesses and eccentricities.
A child who seeks validation and approval is a result of an unaware parenting style. As a parent the most important thing you can do is accept your child. Everything else will follow.