It is the beginning of the school year with new, and sometimes harder, demands being placed on your child; not only academically, but socially as well. Because of this, it is important that your child remain confident and understand their self-worth. Kids who know their strengths and weaknesses and feel good about themselves seem to have an easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. Kids who think poorly of themselves may have a hard time finding solutions to the right problems. Below are five practical and easy ways to cultivate self-esteem in your child.
1. Parent Influence – Accept your weaknesses and celebrate your strengths
Self-esteem and self confidence are learned characteristics and traits, and children need opportunities to develop them. Research tells us that parents have the longest and strongest lasting influence on their child. If you have low self-esteem, or are not confident in your abilities to succeed, this will reflect off what the child then believes about his/her self. With encouragement, time, and awareness they can learn to embrace and enhance their capabilities as well as challenge their weaknesses.
- Parent Involvement – Be your child’s cheerleader
Being invested in your child’s interest, whether that be sitting on a sideline, watching a child solve a puzzle on their own, cheering them on as they finish homework, teaches your child that they can believe in themselves because they have someone who already does.
- Encourage Interests
It is easy to sometimes want certain activities to be important to your kids, especially if they are important to you. Also, sometimes it is hard to avoid giving off the idea that you do not want certain interests to be a part of your child’s life. In order to allow your child to develop interest and passion for something, as little rules for what is acceptable should be the goal.
Encourage them to take on tasks they show interest in and make sure they follow through with it until finished. It should not matter the task, it could be anything from playing baseball or football to conquering a level in a video game. The point is for your child to stick with what they start, so they feel a sense of accomplishment at the end.
- Teaching Skills – Let them help around the house
Allowing your child to problem solve on their own is a major boost of self-confidence. The more exposure the child has to learning new skills, the more opportunity there is to demonstrate their competence and feel that their contribution is valuable. At home, that means asking them everyday to help with cooking, making beds, setting the table, etc. Teaching the skills also remind your child that any problem that comes in the future, can be solved.
- Accepting Mistakes – Learning from failure
Lastly, it is important for your child to feel comfortable, not defeated, when he or she makes a mistake or fails at something. Explain to your child that setbacks and obstacles are part of living and learning, and that they can learn or benefit from them. Provide supportive yet constructive feedback as well as recognition of their effort to overpower any sense of failure, shame, or guilt that they might be feeling. Supportive and constructive feedback will re-establish motivation in your child and hope to do better next time. For example, “It may be helpful to try it this way,” instead of “you’ll never make it by doing it that way.”
Overall, it is helpful to think about developing and promoting self-esteem in the early childhood years. As kids try, fail, try again, fail again, and then finally succeed, they develop ideas about their own capabilities. At the same time, they’re creating a self-concept based on their interactions with people. This is why parental involvement, encouraging interests, and teaching the skills are essential to helping kids form healthy self-perceptions.