Updated: Dec 27, 2018
Do you feel like your child struggles with a low self-esteem? Do you notice that he/she refuses or avoids trying new tasks? Are you looking for ways to get your child to break free from his/her comfort zone and get them to feel good about themselves? If you are looking to help your child develop a better opinion and perception of themselves there are some highly recommended tips and suggestions you can follow as their parent. In order for your child to gain a positive sense of self-worth and personal value, it is extremely important that you take the necessary steps in order to foster their growth. Below are some tips and suggestions on how you can can empower your child to develop a positive self-esteem.
Set an example. If we want our children to feel they are people of worth, it is important that we, as their parents demonstrate confidence and respect for ourselves. Our children look up to us more than we think and often times will imitate and model our behavior and mannerisms. Therefore, be a good role model and be the person that you hope your child will be. If we want our children to take responsibility for their actions, overcome obstacles, not be afraid to take on challenges, than we must set that example for them. The way you respond to disappointments, setbacks, praise and insults will have significant influence on your child’s self esteem. As parents, we must demonstrate a positive attitude about ourselves and demonstrate what a healthy self-esteem looks like.
Teach skills for independence. In order for children to develop a positive sense of self-worth, it is essential that they are taught and coached on important life skills. Often times, especially at the younger ages, we feel compelled to do certain things for our kids, because we do not want them to make a mistake or we just need a task to be done quickly. Whatever the reason, it is important that you take time to teach your child the skills that will help them become more independent as this will give them a better perception of their self-worth. In order to guide this process, parents should make sure the skills they are trying to teach is appropriate for their developmental stage and is something they can master with practice. While teaching these life skills, it is important that you are patient and not come to the rescue right away when there appears to be a struggle. When kids work through their own problems and start to use the skills they have developed, whether it be learning to put their clothes on, making their bed, cooking a hot meal, doing their laundry, changing a tire, they are ultimately going to feel good about themselves. A good way for kids to practice and utilize the skills they develop are having chores and responsibilities around the house. Not only will this improve and prepare them for their future but it will also give them a sense of belonging and worthiness to their family.
Develop talents. If your child has an interest in music, sports, art, technology or whatever it may be encourage and help them develop talents in those fields by giving them opportunities to be actively engaged. Sign them up for camps, classes, clubs, after school programs that will support them in building the talents necessary in their particular area of interest. In addition, it is important to teach kids about taking responsibility for their own growth as well and taking the necessary steps to find ways to improve or build on their talents.
Allow them to make their own age-appropriate choices. If a child feels like their whole life is dictated by someone else, it will be hard for them to build a positive self-esteem. It is critical as parents that we allow our children to make their own choices in situations and circumstances appropriate for their age. At the same time, as we provide opportunities for our children to make their own choices, it is also essential we teach them about natural consequences and taking responsibility for their own actions. If we decide every little thing for our child, it will not give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes or how to make better choices for the next time. When good things happen because of a choice a child made, it will have a positive impact on self-esteem.
Positive self-talk. When kids develop a habit of using a positive self-talk it can be very impactful on their self-esteem. The challenge however, is we often times will resort to negative self-talk when we make mistakes, setbacks or experience self-doubt. It is during these situations that we need to reinforce to our children the power of positive self-talk. The more our kids develop a habit of using positive self-talk, the more likely they will begin to believe in what they are telling themselves. Daily affirmations can encourage and support a positive self-esteem.
Positive thinking. Along the lines of positive self-talk it is also helpful for us to monitor and challenge negative thinking patterns our children may develop about themselves. While it is okay for our children to self-reflect and look for ways to improve, as parents we should make sure to challenge our kids when we notice they are continuously and habitually thinking negative thoughts about themselves and remind them of their strengths and positive qualities. Similar to teaching the skills of a craft, we as parents can also cultivate the skills in our children to develop positive thinking. The way we can do this is by helping our kids recognize when they are stuck on the negative and encourage them to use their brain power to think about the positive.
Praise appropriately. It is very important as parents that we provide meaningful and sincere praise. It is essential that we be conscientious when it comes to praising our kids and that we do not overdo it. When we offer praise for our kids it should be earned. In addition, our praise should be specific. For example “Joe, you did a great job passing the ball to your teammates in the second half”. When we praise, we should also make sure to praise effort rather than outcomes and results. For example, not “I am really happy you received an A on your test.” But instead “I am most impressed with how hard you worked studying and the hours your put in preparing yourself”.
Ban Negative Labels. We all make mistakes, some more than others, however it is never a good practice to make comments that put negative labels on our kids. For example, if our child comes home with a “D” on their test and you know they did not study, it is not helpful or productive to call them “lazy” or “dumb”. When addressing our children about a mistake, we want to call out the behavior that we are not pleased with. For example “I am very disappointed that you decided not to study for your test”. As parents, it is our job to build our kids up and this can not be done if we call them names, belittle them, or define who they are with negative labels. At the same time, it is important to be honest with our kids when they are not meeting expectations, however this can be done through constructive criticism.
Do not compare. We are all different in our own way. If you want to build your child's self-esteem you should not compare them with siblings, relatives, or peers. It is important you encourage and embrace each child’s own individuality and uniqueness. In addition, you should focus on each child’s own personal growth and progress. l
Encourage and support your child to get out of his/her comfort zone. In order for your child to make strides and feel they are capable of taking risks, you should encourage them to try new things that might cause them to feel uncomfortable. At the same time, you should prepare them with the skill set to confront new challenges In addition, you should ensure that when your child begins or tries something new that they follow through with the task and not quit when the road gets tough.
We all have self-doubts. It is important that you communicate to your child that no one is perfect. To build your child’s self-esteem, you must get them to understand that we all experience self-doubt, especially during times of difficulty. In order for your child to embrace who they are and feel good about themselves, you must get them comfortable with recognizing and acknowledge their insecurities. You can have conversations with them about your own insecurities at their age. You can share stories about yourself or others who might have experienced self-doubt.
Self-esteem comes from within. The ultimate goal is for our child to have the internal belief that they are worthy and a person of value. In today’s society however, kids are constantly being sent the message that their sense of worthiness comes from outside factors. It is important that we challenge the belief that personal value comes from the ability to be accepted in peer groups or receive rewards because this is based on the biased beliefs of others. It is important to send the message that positive self-esteem is not a result of being popular or how many “Likes” you get on a social media post. We must make our kids aware that rewards and achievements can be a result of having a positive self-esteem but is not what should define our sense of value.
Build rapport. For children to build a positive self-esteem it is essential that they develop a trusting relationship with their parents. It is critical that they feel secure, safe and loved by you. Your child needs to know that you love them no more or less because of the achievements or mistakes they make in life. It must be unconditional. In order for them to take on challenges, get out of their comfort zone, embrace their own individuality it is critical that you build a trusting bond with them. You can develop this rapport by spending quality time with them and having meaningful conversations. In addition, trust can be created by saying what you mean, and meaning what you say. It can not be stressed enough the importance of simply being there f
Conclusion: One of the best investments we can make as parents for is putting in the work to cultivate our children’s self-esteem. If we are able to achieve this our kids will see much better outcomes and results in their lives. Like anything worthwhile though, it will take dedication and commitment of time and effort from our part. I am confident that if you apply these 13 suggestions and recommendations, your kids will have the self-esteem to take on all the difficulties and pressures that come there way.