By Sarah Lee
Many moons ago when I was a teenager in the days when we listened to vinyl, one of my favourite albums was by the artist George Benson. Little did I know it then, but one of those tracks also became the anthem which my 16 year old daughter now blasts out whenever she is in the shower and has claimed as her favourite too, (albeit she prefers the Whitney version). In spite of listening to the lyrics for well over 30 years, I confess that I’m still working on internalising the key message of the song “Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all”, but the various lockdowns have certainly encouraged me to practice kindness and self-care in a way that I haven’t done before.
I am glad that my daughter loves the song and somehow, I think she has recognised the importance of the lyric at a much earlier point of her development than I. I watch with pride as I see her show kindness to others in her every day deeds and actions, but what impresses me more is that she knows that she has to spend time taking care of herself; that she is worthy of the investment of time and attention; that it doesn’t make her selfish; that it makes her better placed to give of herself to others because she’s OK with who she is and she is nourished with self-love. As children grow into adolescents, under pressure to “fit in”, sometimes they forget to be their own best friends and stay true to who they are in their hearts. Wouldn’t it be powerful if before they left primary school, we could strengthen their love of self so that the doubts and insecurities which plague many as they go through secondary school, were quietened? Wouldn’t it be great if each of us at every stage of life, were encouraged to embrace our quirkiness, our unique personalities and individuality, rather than succumb to the pressure to conform and the need to please or impress others?
The RSHE curriculum puts relationships front and centre. Let’s put the relationship with self at the heart of what we teach as part of this. Knowing, accepting and liking who we are makes us stronger, and in turn, makes us kinder to others. What will you do for yourself today to show a little self-love?