The key to success is self esteem. If a person does not believe they can do something, or achieve something then they won’t. One of the most important things you can do for your child is to teach them how to have self esteem. Children or teens with high self esteem are able to assume responsibility, act independently, have pride in his or her accomplishments, try new things, offer help to others and are able to take both positive and negative emotions.
Children and teens with low self esteem won’t try new things, they feel unloved and unwanted, they blame others for their own shortcomings, they can be indifferent, they cannot tolerate normal levels of frustration, they are easily influenced and they put down their own abilities and talents. If the reasons listed above do not give you motivation enough to help instill self esteem in your kids then what will happen if you don’t should.
Raising children who have high self esteem is not easy, especially if you are one of the many adults who do not feel overly self confident themselves. Let me say this to you, you are a good parent, and you are a good person. The very fact that you are ready this article to help your kids proves that you are a good person and a good parent. So how do you instill self esteem in your children? That is a great question and I am going to share with you with a few tips.
Monday: Think Before You Speak
If there is one thing in this world that can completely crush a child or transcend a child to new heights it is the words of their parents. I don’t care how old your child is, your words can mean the world to them. So praise them for a job well done. Even more important though is when they don’t meet expectations, instead of telling them to try harder so that they do, reward the effort that they did make. I have heard so many parents say, “Well next time try harder and you will make it,” and I watch the expression on the child’s face. They already feel bad, and while you think you are encouraging them, when you tell them to try harder next time, in their head you are cementing the fact that they aren’t “good enough.”
Tuesday: Be a Positive Role Model
You can follow this tip whether you have a high level of self esteem or not. Don’t belittle yourself or be unrealistic about your own abilities and talents. Our children learn by example, our example. Make an effort to focus on the good things about you. This will encourage your children to do the same.
Wednesday: Listen, Catch and Redirect
Parents need to actively listen to their kids. I say actively because I know we all listen to our kids with parent ears, so we hear what they are saying but we don’t always pay attention to what they are saying. I know when my son is going on about Pokémon I have mom ears on, simply because he can talk about it forever and no matter how I try, I just don’t understand Pokémon. But you want to listen to what they are saying especially when they are talking about themselves or their friends, because you want to catch them when they are talking negatively or incorrectly about themselves and redirect them. And redirect them to a more accurate evaluation of themselves. Point out the good qualities they have. We are not all perfect, or cookie cutter versions of one another and that is a good thing.
Thursday: Spontaneous and Affectionate
Hug your kids; tell them you are proud of them. I don’t care how old they are they need it and when they get it; it will improve how they feel. I on occasion put small “love notes” in their lunches. They say simple things like, “ I love you,” or “I think you are great,” you may laugh and think that your kids will think it is ridiculous. They might in front of their friends, but when they are alone that note will make their day.
Don’t overdo the praise or affection. Because when you over do something it loses meaning. For example, it drives our kids crazy that my husband and I don’t say “I love you,” every time we get off the phone with each other or if we are going separate places and kiss goodbye. We have explained to them, when you say “I love you,” all the time it becomes the same as saying “Hello,” or “Good bye.” We know we love one another a lot, and we show it each and every day so it doesn’t have to be said repeatedly.
Friday: Feedback that is Accurate and Positive.
Try to avoid saying things to your kids like, “You work yourself up into such a frenzy over nothing,” will make your child feel as though they have no control over their feelings and the way they express them. Acknowledge how they are feeling and let them know that you are proud of them for expressing themselves appropriately.
Saturday: Foster a Safe and Loving Home Environment
Children that don’t have a safe haven at home have low self esteem. Children who have parents that fight repeatedly, or if the child is abused or just don’t feel safe at home will have low self esteem. Sometimes the best way to nurture self esteem in our children is to stop and asses our own actions and the environment we create for them. A safe and loving home will help everyone feel better.
Sunday: Cooperation Over Competition
We all tend to think that sports are a wonderful way to boost our children’s self esteem and confidence. Well, yes if your child is athletically inclined. But keep in mind that competition can also have the reverse impact, making your child feel inadequate. Activities that encourage cooperation can boost self esteem in all children though. Great examples of these types of programs are mentoring programs.
I would add one more point here: true self-esteem comes from kids feeling valued for their contributions, then they internalize a sense of themselves as being capable. So, look for opportunities to (appropriately) include your children in family discussions– solicit their opinions (this doesn’t mean that they are in charge or call the shots– it does mean that you are encouraging them to see themselves as participants in their community– home) and include your children in contributing to the family or world good. Find chores that are developmentally appropriate– even better– see if your young child can choose a way that he/she would like to help– setting the table, cleaning up toys etc. When kids are of use, they see themselves as useful.
Author, Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking: Powerful, Practical Strategies for Building a Lifetime of Resilience, Flexibility and Happiness.
As a father of two I know this is easy to say and as easy to forget when life gets stressful. This is something all parents need as a regular reminder.