Positive self-esteem has proven to be a crucial component of childhood development. Children with a healthy sense of self-esteem tend to be more successful in school, more likely to reach personal goals, less likely to give into peer pressure, and better able to overcome problems they encounter. Overall, they are usually happier in life, which is something all parents want for their children.
A parent can be a child’s biggest cheerleader or critic. Therefore, they have a significant influence on their children’s self-esteem. To help you help your child, here are five ways parents can build self-esteem in their children.
1. Teach your child to view mistakes as learning opportunities.
It can be difficult to see your child struggle to accomplish a task. It can be just as hard to see them make mistakes. As a protective parent, you may be compelled to fix everything for them. Or if you’ve had a stressful day, criticize them for their misdeed and the extra work it creates. Neither will have a positive impact on their self-esteem.
Instead, let them know that everyone struggles at times in life. Making mistakes is natural and it is perfectly okay to fail. Children sometimes think their parents are perfect so let them know of times that you struggled and failed.
Then help them evaluate what they could have done differently. Discuss solutions they could use in the future. Being critical could easily cause them to feel bad about themselves so be sure your feedback that is clear but not critical.
2. Do not constantly offer mindless praise.
Parents often think equate praise with building self-esteem. While you certainly want your child to be proud of his accomplishments, think about how often you say, “good job”. Responding to nearly everything your child does or says with those two words is not nearly as beneficial as you might think. When said too much, the words lose meaning. In fact, research shows that children who are often lavished with praise tend to have less confident with their answers and less willing to share their ideas in a classroom setting.
Instead of praising everything your child does, focus on your children’s specific actions, skills they use, positive qualities they demonstrate, and the effort they make toward achieving their goals.
3. Act as a role model.
Show your child that you are proud of yourself, even if something goes wrong. For example, if you forget to pick up milk at the grocery store, don’t let your child hear you say things like, “I’m so stupid. That’s what I went there for.” Instead, acknowledge that you forgot and laugh it off or look for something positive to acknowledge.
Lead by example and be willing to try new things. If you excel allow them to share in the joy of your accomplishment. If you fail help them to see how you respond to the challenges and setbacks but continue to stay focused.
4. Make sure they know that your love for them is unconditional.
Parental love creates a safe space for children. Knowing that a parent loves them, regardless of what trouble they may have gotten into at school or the fact they broke your favorite vase, gives children the security and sense of belonging they need to thrive. Feeling secure, happy, and comfortable has been shown to increase children’s sense of self-worth, while also helping lay the foundation for healthy relationships as they grow. Let your child know you love them every day.
5. Give them responsibilities.
Household responsibilities and chores shows children that they are an important member of the family. It also gives them a sense of purpose and feeling of accomplishment. Always praise and thank them for their efforts, even if they don’t do the job completely right. Knowing they have skills to do things around the house, and that you appreciate their effort, can help build their confidence and self-esteem.