10 Ways to Boost your Child’s Self Esteem
Why is your Child’s Self Esteem so Important?
Your child’s self esteem is fundamental to their emotional and psychological well-being. It significantly affects their ability to form meaningful relationships, and how successful they are academically and, ultimately, in their chosen career.
In this article, we look at 10 things you can do as a parent to help increase your child’s self esteem.
1. Be Consistent
Children thrive on stability and predictability. It allows them to feel safe and secure. Children also need firm boundaries, so they have a clear understanding of what they can and can’t do. It’s really important to ensure that you are consistent in enforcing those boundaries. Otherwise, children receive mixed messages, and this makes them feel uncertain and insecure and can have a negative impact on self-esteem.
2. Focus on the Behaviour, not the Child
Avoid labelling your child “good” or “bad”, and focus instead on the behaviour that is in issue. If a child is regularly told that they are “naughty” or “bad”, then they are likely to start behaving in accordance with that label and their self esteem is likely to take a nose-dive. Conversely, labelling a child “good” is unlikely to produce the intended result, because the label is neither specific nor measurable (more on this below).
Instead, focus on describing the behaviour, not the child. Be specific about what it is you are encouraging, or wishing to deter. It is also helpful to reassure your child that, irrespective of their behaviour, you will always love them unconditionally.
3. Treat your child with respect
The best way to encourage your child to treat their parents, and others, with respect, is for you to model that behaviour in your dealings with them. A child who is treated with respect is more likely to be respectful to others and have greater self esteem.
4. Validate your child’s feelings and emotions
Children can become distraught about things that seem incredibly insignificant to us as adults. Nevertheless, it’s important that we acknowledge the validity of our children’s emotions, and provide them with comfort, reassurance, and guidance as to how to manage their “big feelings”. This is essential if children are to ultimately learn how to self-regulate their own emotions.
5. Give your Child a Choice
Wherever possible, give your child a choice rather than dictating what they must do. This is far more empowering for a child, and affords them with a sense of responsibility for the decisions that they make, and their outcomes.
6. Give lots of cuddles
This one is pretty self-explanatory! Cuddling helps strengthen the parent-child bond and is a great way of showing your child how much you love them. To coin a well-known saying, actions speak a thousand words.
7. Be present
Set aside a period of time where you give your child your undivided attention. This sends a clear message that they are important in their own right.
Life is busy, and there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. So, it’s easy to find yourself responding to your child with words like, “I’ll be with you in a minute” or, “I’ve just got to do this first.” In these situations, it’s really important to follow through with your promises. Otherwise, the message you are sending your child, is that they are not a priority to you. If we do this too often, it can impact detrimentally on our children’s self-esteem. So, make a concerted effort to put time aside for your children. It will pay dividends as far as boosting your child’s self-esteem is concerned.
8. Rewards more effective than Punishment
Wherever possible, focus on rewarding or praising your child rather than reproaching them. In younger children, positive reinforcement is a far more effective strategy than punishment. Further, effective praise can increase a child’s self-motivation. This is because the positive experience of being praised for their efforts encourages the child to replicate this behaviour in the future.
The most effective forms of praise involve honest and spontaneous words of encouragement that focus on your child’s effort, not the outcome.
So, for example, saying to a child,
“I really liked the way you worked so hard to tidy your room”
focuses on and praises the effort, and is specific and measurable. The child can, therefore, reproduce the behaviour and is likely to do so, because the experience had a positive outcome. On the other hand, saying to a child,
“You’re such a good boy”
is neither measurable nor specific. The child does not know how to reproduce the outcome that resulted in praise. There is now an expectation that the boy cannot meet, so he feels like a failure. Obviously this impacts on his self esteem.
9. Give your child responsibilities
10. Allow your child to take healthy risks
Taking healthy risks is an important part of a child’s development. When a child takes a risk and succeeds, they experience a sense of excitement and achievement. If the outcome is not positive, then the child learns a valuable lesson. Either way, it’s an important learning experience for the child.
Parents play a vital role when it comes to the development of their child’s self esteem. A child raised with positive self esteem receives a passport to a happy and successful future. What greater gift can a parent give to a child?