Many moms over the years have asked how to build their child’s self esteem. My number one answer is lifebook. My number two is one on one time. Number three is find out their love language and fill it!
Today I want to focus on the first…..lifebooking. Don’t panic and run to the scrapbook store. Lifebooking is a much simpler version of scrapbooking but the effect is the same; increased self-esteem. There is nothing that makes a kid feel more special than looking at a book that is all about them.
Children (and adults for that matter) are constantly being told they are not good enough from the media, kids on the playground, teachers, report cards, coaches, neighbours, tv shows, internet, and so on. We compare ourselves to others and we often feel we fail short. Lifebooks are the place to remind your children that they are special, wonderful, amazing, unique, and loved.
This past weekend my 24 year old son came for a visit. He just had his own son so I felt it a great time to bring out his baby memory box and give him his childhood memory box. I had already given him 18 years of lifebooks when he turned 18 but hung onto the memory boxes for a bit longer. He stopped what he was doing and began pulling out letters, cards, baby clothes, spoons with his name engraved, and more photos that didn’t make the cut for his lifebooks. Watching him pour over these items for a few hours was intriguing. He read every report card, every letter and every birthday card. The rest of the kids joined in the fun and seeing him so happy was amazing. I watched his self esteem and confidence build. He was reminded how much he is loved.
As a foster parent we are required to create lifebooks. The smallest one that I did was for two boys who were only with us for our two weeks of holidays. They came camping with us. We sent them home each with their own little album with all the photos of their trip. The oldest boy sees us around the community often and still talks about his vacation in foster care! He asked for many years if he could come on vacation with us again. Sadly, some kids don’t ever get to find out what a vacation is. Both boys, still have their lifebooks from those two weeks. They remember foster care in a positive light. Their mother didn’t destroy them because the books made the boys so happy.
Want to know the secret to fast lifebooking? It’s not Shutterfly! Its a simple binder with page protectors in it. I switched to this method years ago after getting so behind on scrapbooking. We had 5 kids and got 4 siblings. I knew right aways that there was no way I would have time to scrapbook. I purchased four binders and thought “If I can just put all their schoolwork, photos and report cards in these pages I may be able to give them some sort of lifebook. Seeing the impact that just putting the first pages in had on those kids was incredible. They had never had such a thing. They had never had anyone focus on just them. The older ones loved participating and one kept every single paper that came home from school. She ended up with a few lifebooks in a few short months but guess what?…..she had a light in her eyes that she didn’t have before she came. This stranger cared about her and her life and her memories. She asked for pictures of her as a child and her parents found a few. She made special pages and wrote about those precious photos. You won’t get that experience from a digital album thrown together at the last minute when a child is leaving.
Lifebooking is really just taking the time to stop at the photo lab at Walmart or anywhere and printing the photos of the last month on your phone or camera. Its sticking them on cardstock and putting it in a page protector. It’s fast and easy. Doesn’t have to cost much either. The benefits of doing it far outweigh the cost and time. If you can get together with other friends, family, foster parents, it can be even more fun!
My kids spend hours looking at their lifebooks. The little ones tend to ruin page protectors a lot but I can simply exchange it for a new one. The older ones love to find treasures for in theirs. They love to come home with artwork they are proud of and put it in their book. Seeing my 24 year old show off his wonderful drawings from when he had the time to draw was precious. Don’t just let the recycle bin keep all of your child’s art. Even those little valentines (or love reminders as I like to call them) are perfect to let your kids glue onto a sheet of cardstock and save for a day when they are feeling unloved by their friends.
So if you are looking for a way to boost your child’s self-esteem, pick up a binder and page protectors today and have your child of any age go on a scavenger hunt and look for things to put in it. Old photos, cards, artwork, or anything else. Even the hardest teens will feel important and you may catch them looking at it when they think no one is watching.
If you think you don’t have time, enlist family, your kids, and friends to help you. We have completed a year’s worth of a foster baby’s lifebook in two evenings with a group of us foster mommas. Every child deserves to be built up and treasured.