A healthy self-esteem is a vital component to a happy, self-reliant child. Children with high self -esteem are more confident in their ability to take care of themselves and make their own decisions and thus are more capable at handling challenges as they arise. Happy children who feel good about who they are, are more outgoing, willing to try new things and interact in positive ways with others and their world. Children with low self-esteem don’t feel good about who they are and thus don’t trust their ability to care for themselves and make their own decisions. Kids with low self-esteem tend to either act out with negative behaviors or withdraw from their world.
As a parent, it is our job to help build positive self-esteem in our children. Below are 6 ways you can help your child build self-esteem:
- Give genuine compliments. Often times we as parents, tend to point out what our child hasn’t done, needs to do better, is lacking- “Sit up strait…Don’t chew with your mouth open,…etc. What we need to remember is to notice what our child is doing that is good and let them know. “Wow! You shared your cupcake with your sister. That was so nice of you.” Or, “Great work on your paper. I can see you worked hard on it.” Make sure the compliment is genuine so that your child can really take it to heart. Give your compliments freely on a daily basis. Compliments don’t cost you anything and they add up in your child’s self-esteem bank account.
- Share positive things about your child with others. Being mindful of how we talk about our children to others is vital in helping build self-esteem. Know that your children are always listening when you are on the phone with grandma, or talking to your friend, especially when the topic is about them! Let them hear your say positive things about them instead of negative. Hearing you say positive things about them to others will validate what is good about them. I always encourage parents to share their child’s strengths with teachers instead of their struggles, especially at the start of a new school year so that teachers can get a positive sense of your child. Remember, as a parent, your job is to help build a positive reputation for your child so that others can view them in a positive light.
- Help them set attainable goals. Kids can build self -esteem when they set a goal and reach it. Think about how great it feels when you reach a goal! The key is to help your child set realistic goals that can be met. Whether its improving grades, learning a new sport, or making new friends in a new school, help your child come up with realistic goals that they can attain with good effort and goals that are not too ambitious that they risk failing.
- Spend time together. Kids feel important when you make the time and effort to be with them. Parents today are busier than ever juggling work, kids, household chores etc., but it doesn’t take much time to make a huge impact. Take time to check-in with your child at dinner or before bed and learn about how their day was. Let the dirty dishes in the sink wait while you enjoy a board game, read a book together or walk around the block with your child. By spending time with your child, you are showing them that they are important to you and feeling important builds self-esteem. So put your cell phone down and give your full attention to your child at least once a day to teach them they are worth 5 minutes of your undivided attention.
- Act as a Consultant Parent. Parents who act as a consultant and provide advice to their children rather than swoop in to rescue, help to raise more confident kids. The “helicopter” parent who has good intentions by rescuing their child from falling down and getting the skinned knee or making their own mistakes raises a child, who as a result, lacks the confidence to solve their own problems. Kids who are allowed to fail, learn their lessons with natural consequences. Kids who have parents that rescue them from failing, learn to become reliant upon their parent. Consultant parents show empathy when their child is struggling and offer suggestions on how the child can solve their problems rather than solving the problem for the child. This helps the child to learn self-reliance, problem solving skills and how choices they make have natural consequences.
- Be a positive Role Model. If you are constantly putting yourself down and are modeling low self-esteem, guess what? Your child will learn these habits from you. Be a positive role model and talk positively about yourself in front of your children. “I am proud of myself for meeting a very important deadline at work!” Be mindful of not discussing your appearance or failures in a negative way in front of your children. Instead showcase that you are not perfect and how that is great! Love your curves, and embrace your imperfections so that your child can learn to embrace theirs.
Remember, as a parent, you have a vital role in helping your child build and maintain healthy self-esteem. The world has a powerful way of emptying your child’s self-esteem bank account by telling them they aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, the right size or shape etc. You can replenish their self-esteem bank account on a daily basis just by being a positive role model, giving genuine compliments, letting your child fail and suffer the natural consequences, setting attainable goals and sharing positive things about your child with others.