I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Gillian Beeton about her new book, Free to be Me!, an interactive journal that helps children learn that they are unique, special, creative, lovable and capable just as they are.

Gillian is a self-esteem facilitator, life coach and life orientation educator based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her company, Real Self, is affiliated to the Building Self-Esteem Organisation and she works with companies, educators, parents, students and individuals in the area of self-development.

Be sure to see the ideas at the end for building your child’s self esteem TODAY.
Free to be Me! by Gillian Beeton and Jan Rech

Free to be Me! by Gillian Beeton and Jan Rech


Kristen: Gillian, how did you come to write the book?

Gillian: I was asked to deliver a series of creative workshops for orphaned children. I invited a very talented colleague, Jan Rech, to join me and this successful collaboration served as the spark for our book.


Who is the book intended for?

Free to be Me! is designed for children between the ages of 7 and 12 with the assistance of a parent, teacher, therapist or caregiver.


Tell us more about the book.

It’s a non-fiction book that draws on the analogy of the metamorphosis of a butterfly. “Suzi” the butterfly guides both the child and adult through the various messages and creative activities in the book.


How does this help children?

Children are encouraged to build their self-belief creatively. Creative activities facilitate messages such as: you are important, you matter, you have the tools to cope with your life, you deserve to feel loved and equal, you have the right to be heard, your feelings are real, you are special and unique, you can imagine and create your own life, you are free to be YOU.


If you had to choose one or two main ideas from the book that you’d love the world to know, what would they be, and why?

I would love all children in this world to know that they are lovable and capable just as they are. If every child knew this for sure, we could create a world where everything we do and be is from a place of love rather than fear. Children with self-esteem would develop into fulfilled adults living in harmony.

Recently a client shared with me that her mother had always told her, ”Do not be full of yourself!” If we are not full of ourselves, who or what should we be full of? Is it fear? The fear of not being good enough, not having enough, not doing enough, or not being lovable enough, or deserving enough? Often children are filled with fear rather than courage.

Building self-esteem is about filling children with a deep-seated belief in their own value and worth and as a result, courage. It gives them permission to love themselves and know that they are competent to cope with their lives. Self-esteem is certainly not about comparison with others nor a reliance on others’ opinions. I believe that a child can never have too much self-esteem just as they can never be too healthy.

Often I am asked, “Isn’t loving yourself arrogant?” My answer is always the same. Arrogance reflects low self-esteem. Self-esteem thinking is, “I am powerful and so are you,” whereas selfish or arrogant thinking is “I am powerful and you are not.”


Where can people get a copy?

You can request a copy of Free to be Me! by emailing gillian@realself.co.za. The book is $20 (R180) plus delivery with payment via PayPal.


What else would you like people to know?

Here are a few pointers on how to build your child’s self-esteem today:

  • Don’t forget to build your belief in your own value and worth – focusing on your strengths and giving yourself permission to have a loving relationship with yourself. Your children are observing you.
  • Give children consistent positive feedback about their specific strengths. Focus on process strengths such as effort, attention, focus, persistence, positive attitude, etc. A belief in their own competence enables to them live with “I CAN” thinking.
  • Encourage them to treat themselves as they would their best friend. They need to be encouraged to speak to themselves in a kind, respectful, appreciative and trusting manner. A belief in their own worthiness enables them to live with “I DESERVE” thinking.
  • Ask them questions frequently and listen attentively to their answers. Encourage them to believe that their opinions matter.
  • Help them develop a comprehensive vocabulary of feeling words. Encourage children to deal with their feelings effectively. An effective four-step process is shared in the book.


I’d like to thank Gillian so much for telling us about her new book and giving us ideas for helping our children flourish. I can’t wait to get my copy and will tell you more about it when I do. To learn more about Gillian and the work she does, check out her website, Real Self, or drop her an email.