Building self-esteemin children is an essential tool in helping them to meet their potential. In fact, parents often don’t realize how much criticism and harsh words that are blurted out today remain with a child, often for a lifetime.
Here are seven tips for building self-esteem in children:
Look for something to praise. The driving force in children is a quest for attention. If the only attention they get is negative attention, they will try to get more of it. Get in the habit of noticing what your child is doing right from a very young age. Praise your child often and limit criticism.
Encourage your child to identify what she likes about herself. Spend some time doing self-esteem projects with your child, such as creating an “All about Me” book. Help your child to get in the habit of identifying her own strengths and positive characteristics.
Display his artwork or papers with good grades. This is a wordless way of praising your child. When he sees his successes proudly displayed, he knows you are proud of him, whether you’ve ever said the words or not.
Teach responsibility. When you give your child tasks to do and she is able to complete them, her self-esteem will soar. Very young children have a strong desire to be helpful. Even though you may be in a rush, let them help. Let them dry the dishes or stir the spaghetti sauce or fold the laundry (even though you’ll end up re-folding it!)
Encourage your child to take a risk. It’s human nature to want to stay within our comfort zone, but children are natural risk-takers. They will dive into the deep end of a pool or hop on a bike a hundred times after falling. Cheer them for their efforts. Encouragement is very powerful. Let them express themselves. Listen to them and ask questions like "what" and "how" to figure out what they like doing and support them to be the best at it.
Avoid comparing siblings. Most parents are amazed at how different their children are. One may be shy while another is outgoing. One is overweight and another is slender. One is academically inclined while the other is particularly attractive physically. It’s so exciting to notice these differences, but if you say “Annie is the smart one and Jennifer is the pretty one,” Annie is going to think she is not pretty and Jennifer is going to thing she is not smart. Labels are always dangerous and so are comparisons, particular when you are comparing siblings in any way that makes them doubt themselves.
Spend quality time with your child. What we love we give time to. Your child knows that instinctively, whether or not you ever say it. If you continually push your child away because you are too busy, he will conclude that he is not a person of value and that other things and people are much more important than he is.
It can’t be overemphasized how important building self-esteem in children is. Your child’s potential for future success depends on his own opinion of himself. Help him develop his self-esteem throughout his childhood and adolescence. It is one of the most important parts of parenting.
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