One of the most common areas that we work in with adults is addressing low self-esteem. So it makes sense that many parents are asking themselves “how can I help my child to develop healthy self-esteem”. You don’t need a psychology degree to implement these simple 5 steps in raising a confident child.
- Hold back on the temptation to overpraise your child for everything and anything. If you are always telling your child they are doing a great job then there is little incentive for them to improve. Constant complimenting can also erode self-esteem by giving the impression that compliments are meaningless.
- Some indirect praise can be very effective for example stars awarded on a chore board or allow your child to overhear a conversation with a friend in which you point out a genuine strength. For example “Mary was very kind today!.” Your child is far more likely to believe this praise than if it was said directly.
- Allow healthy risks to be taken. It is the love for our children that prompts us to step in and protect them when we think they are making bad choices or struggling with something. The greatest gift we can give our children is allowing them the space to make decisions, sometimes make mistakes, take (appropriate) risks and problem solve for themselves. In doing this you will be raising a competent child who is also more likely to be a confident child.
- Let kids make their own (age appropriate) choices. Yes, we know best, of course! But there is no better way to develop confidence and identity than making choices for oneself. Even little kids can be given choices over what they like to wear or eat that will help them to feel powerful.
- Allow kids to be responsible for household jobs. Developing competence with tasks and feeling valued are important cornerstones of self-esteem. Encourage even small children to contribute to household chores, laying the table, making beds and packing away toys. Doing this will help them to feel like valued members of the family.
- Offer unconditional love, even in the light of failures and mistakes. If our focus is on achievements then we can inadvertently give our little ones the message that our love is conditional on their success. Instead be sure to reaffirm your love even when your child makes mistakes or brings home a bad report card.
And lastly, self-esteem is not something you need to (or can!) ‘provide’ for your child. Healthy self-esteem grows when you relax and enjoy your child and watch them develop into their own little characters.
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