How to Raise a Child with High Self Esteem
Children with healthy self-esteem have a deep-seated recognition of their own worth. This gives them the confidence to try new things, speak up for themselves and deal with failure and rejection.
Children who lack self-esteem on the other hand will have more trouble overcoming life’s hurdles. They are often critical of themselves and internalise failure and rejection. In social situations they struggle to be assertive and this can make them a target for bullies.
These tips will help you raise your child with confidence and resilience.
Boost Your Self-esteem
Parents who lack confidence often pass this onto children by projecting their own feelings of inadequacy onto kids. Clinical psychologist Dr Lisa Firestone states:
When parents feel negatively toward themselves, it is equally easy for them to extend these feelings to their children. The negative thoughts parents harbor toward themselves can lead to parental rejection, neglect, or hostility.
Children who grow up with criticism often develop a critical inner voice, which mimics their parent’s voice. Even if parents with low self-esteem refrain from criticising kids, their disapproval of themselves sets a negative example for children.
To avoid transferring self-esteem issues to children, parents need to become more self-reflective and work on building their own confidence.
Give Genuine Praise
While it’s important to give children positive reinforcement, this doesn’t mean lavishing praise on everything they do. Children are good at detecting insincerity and praising them too often or at times when it’s unearned can render praise meaningless.
Excessive praise can create children who need constant validation. It can also give kids a false sense of their own ability, setting them up for disappointment. One way to avoid this is to offer positive reinforcement for effort rather than results. If children don’t do as well as hoped at school or in sport, tell them you’re proud of them for trying and encourage them to try again.
Watch Your Language
It’s important when speaking to a child who has made a bad choice to emphasise it’s the behaviour you’re upset about, not the child themselves. Comments like ‘you’re lazy’ are unhelpful and send the message the child is flawed. Behaviour, on the other hand, can be changed.
When discussing negative behaviour, remain calm and use neutral language to explain what they did wrong and the consequences. Talk with your child about how they can make a better choice next time. When teaching kids new skills, be patient and encouraging with your words.
Spend Time Together
Kids need a strong sense of belonging to develop self-esteem. You can build this by spending time together as a family. Anything that involves enjoyable time spent with parents is helpful. Take the time to have fun with your child and watch their self-esteem bloom.
It’s great fun to try new things together. When you’re learning new skills, emphasise that failure is part of the process and laugh at your mistakes so children learn not to take themselves too seriously. The goal is to teach children that success and failure don’t define them, and they are inherently worthy.
Give Kids Choices
Kids feel empowered when they are trusted to make choices for themselves. From a young age parents can give a range of options for what to eat for breakfast and what to wear. Allowing children to choose from these options teaches them to think for themselves.
Older kids should also be included in important decisions affecting the family. When you include children in discussions, you send the message that their opinion matters.
Set your child up for a happy life by giving them the gift of good self-esteem.