Helping to build up your children’s self-esteem is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Adults and children with high self-esteem are happier, more confident, more self-accepting, more productive and feel more useful than those for whom self-esteem is lacking.
As parents, all we want is for our children to grow into confident, happy and secure adults. We can help our children achieve this by taking daily steps to build their self-esteem.
Here are some ways we can build our children’s self-esteem:
Giving children choices – be it between an apple and an orange or which pair of shoes to wear – helps them to feel as though they have a control over what happens to them. This empowerment builds their confidence and helps them learn how to make decisions by themselves.
Offer specific praise
When your child does something praise-worthy, instead of offering a vague ‘that’s great’, try to be more specific with your compliments. ‘I love the way you’ve drawn that rainbow’ or ‘that’s fantastic because I can see how hard you’ve worked’ are more positive ways of letting your child know how proud you are. Children love receiving praise, but telling them why you’re proud as well as praising their effort will make them feel extra good about themselves.
Give them responsibility
Chores, gardening or looking after a pet are examples of ways we can give our children responsibility, which in turn helps bolster their confidence and problem-solving skills. They will also learn that it’s fine to make mistakes and they needn’t be afraid of making them.
Let them do things by themselves
Toddlers can take a frustratingly long time to get dressed or put their shoes on and sometimes, when you’re in a rush, you do need to step in and help. However, when you have the time, letting your child do these things by themselves will make them feel a sense of achievement and confidence. When allowed to work things out for themselves, they’ll be keener to take on new challenges as they grow.
As adults, we often compare ourselves to others – this is rarely a positive experience. We can help our children to avoid falling into the comparison trap by never comparing them with a sibling, relative or friend. As Theodore Roosevelt quite rightly said, ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’
Let them make mistakes
When your child is trying something new, you can actually build their self-esteem by letting them make mistakes before you rush in to help. Learning that we all make mistakes and suffer setbacks will help your child develop a more positive relationship with failure. Effort and perseverance should be highlighted and praised in order to raise children who don’t give up at the first hurdle because they are scared of failure.
Be a good role model
Let your child see that no-one is perfect – including you – and that aiming for perfection is pointless. When you make a mistake, tell your child about it and let them know it’s ok. Try not to put yourself down by saying ‘I’m a rubbish cook’ or ‘I’m so fat’. Your child may absorb the way you talk to yourself and apply it to their own self-talk. Showing yourself respect and love is the best way you can help your child nuture their own self-esteem.