Learning how to build your self-esteem from a young age is an invaluable lesson that every parent wants their children to go through. Here are some ways to help them along the journey, and to learn a couple of things about yourself along the way
What Is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves and the confidence we have in our abilities and worth. Teaching your child to value themselves and what they have to offer the world can be tricky, but it is not impossible. The process begins with thinking about what you want your child to believe about themselves and helping them realize they deserve to enjoy who they are
You Are Loved
The first step in helping build your child’s self-esteem is teaching them that your love for them is unconditional. Try responding to every situation in as similar a way as possible, being predictable with your reactions creates a level of trust between you and your child. This often makes them more likely to open up to you about what they’re thinking and feeling about themselves. Try to be the safest place they know.
When confident and secure in how their parents feel about them, children can start building their self-esteem on a solid foundation of “I am loved, regardless.
Effort Over Outcome
The way in which you handle failure personally is a huge part of how your child will view mistakes of their own. Handle personal failure graciously and gently, setting a good example to your child about how to value your effort more than the outcome.
If your child learns that all that matters is what they achieve, they will feel worthless as soon as they encounter failure. Work with them and re-word any negative thoughts that may lead to low self-esteem. For example, congratulate them on how long they spent practicing before a sports game that didn’t go very well, or show that you are proud of how they worked as hard as they could before a tough test.
As soon as they learn that their self-esteem doesn’t have to depend on the results they achieve, it becomes much easier for that self-esteem to become a constant and secure level
When encountering failure or mistakes, letting them feel whatever emotion they need to is very important. Teach them that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and that the weaknesses don’t subtract from your value or worth. Don’t try gloss over every failure – address the issue directly and talk through what they think they could do differently the next time.
Help them set realistic and age-appropriate goals. Then, help set up a game plan for achieving these goals. Goals bring both satisfaction and purpose, so they are a great way to up your child’s self-esteem
For your child to start developing positive self-esteem, they might need some external validation to get the process going.
Let them figure out what makes them excited, and then actively support that interest. Tell them that them being passionate about what they enjoy is important to you.
Try to avoid the phrase “the real world” when referring to adult life. Their problems may seem small to you, but they might be the biggest and most devastating problem they’ve had to face so far. Saying their problems will only be real when they are older invalidates anything they feel now, making them believe their problems are worthless. This belief warps self-esteem completely, which is why it is such an important thing to avoid saying.
If you have a multi-child home, make sure each of your children has a turn with your undivided attention. Designate ‘special time’ for every child and use this time to reconnect with them. Seeing that they deserve time alone will help them realize their worth.
Self-esteem increases greatly when you feel self-sufficient to some degree. Giving your child age-appropriate responsibilities will give them the opportunity to feel satisfied after doing something helpful.
Another way to let them grow their independence is to let them make decisions on their own; whether it is when in the day they do homework and chores, or how they feel about a certain situation. Offer your guidance, but do not dictate. The final decision must be theirs, so they can learn to take pride in their decisions and to trust their own judgments
Activities You Can Do Together
Help your child answer these three questions with simple activities that will train their brains to think of themselves positively.
Why Should I Like Myself?
Sometimes the best way to boost their self-esteem is to help them realize why it deserves to be higher. Have them make a list about what they like about themselves and encourage them to add on to it as often as they can.
What Am I Proud Of Myself For?
Somewhere in their room, make an achievement wall. Document any event that made them feel proud to be who they are. Careful to not turn this into an ‘outcome’ wall, but an area to collect moments that made your child feel good. Did they like how they treated a classmate kindly? Did they figure out how to do a handstand after weeks of trying?
What Do I Believe About Myself?
The last activity you can do with your child is to write a list of positive affirmations. These are statements that we tell ourselves which challenge self-doubt and negative thoughts.
To write positive affirmations, stick to these general guidelines:
- Write in the first person: “I am…”
- Use the present tense
- Ensure each statement is positive and encouraging
Once written, have your child read them at least once a day in a mirror, and also whenever they feel a negative thought coming. For example, if your child struggles with spelling, your positive affirmations could be, “I am a hard worker. I have the ability to learn. I have a parent that is willing to help me. I can take longer than other people when learning how to spell things, and that’s okay. I like myself even if I’m struggling with this right now.
Your child’s transition to positive self-esteem and confidence in themselves may not happen overnight, but it is something that is worth the wait and the effort. Your child deserves to love themselves and can reach a point of full comfort in who they are.
It’s important that you partner with a preschool that also promotes positive affirmations in the classroom. At Parkland Children’s Academy, we are a family-orientated preschool that is dedicated to laying solid foundations through education, safety, health, and development in a fun and friendly environment. Contact us today for information on our classes.