We all have a desire to be known, accepted and loved for who we truly are. We want to be valued ultimately for our personhood, rather than our achievements. As parents, we certainly want our children to know and feel love. We also want our children to feel capable of facing the world. This sense of capability cannot be developed without healthy self-esteem.
There are ways that we can encourage our children to love themselves. In doing so, we give them the ability to develop into well-rounded, fulfilled individuals. Try the four tips below and watch with amazement as your child’s self-esteem soars:
•Help your kids to see setbacks as temporary rather than as permanent. This will aid in developing problem solving skills and build frustration tolerance. Normalize the concept of trying and failing (and repeating until successful). Remind your child that life is like a game of “Chutes and Ladders”—lots of ups and downs!
•Praise your children often, and be genuine and specific. Help your child learn about herself by sharing your observations of her strengths. Let her know that everyone has things they’re good at and not so good at. (And the things we’re not so good at might require extra effort). Remember to give praise for a job well done and the effort she put in (even when the outcome is disappointing, such as losing a game).
•Model healthy self-esteem for your child by nurturing your own. Children mirror a great deal of what they see in their environment. If your children hear you constantly criticizing or being hard on yourself, they are vulnerable to using that same critical voice with themselves.
•Make the most out of bedtime—use it as a time to bond and validate. For young children, this is an excellent time to have some quiet reflection with one or both parents. This can be a time to review what happened during the day, as well as give awareness to your child’s feelings and any stress he’s experiencing. The attachment between parent and child is powerful in many ways, but the center of that child’s bonding experience is the ability to express feelings and have her parent validate and give comfort.
Did we miss something on our list? Share with us the ways you encourage your child.
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, call The Stone Foundation at 410-296-2004.