9 Different Ways to Build Self Esteem in Your Child
Self esteem is defined as liking the person that you are. When children are young though, they do not see themselves as individual persons. Instead, they see the reflection of themselves through you and how you see them. That’s why it’s imperative to teach them how to like themselves and build a strong sense of self-esteem.
Obviously, showing your child that you love them and they are lovable to others is the first step. However, as they continue to grow, this is not merely enough. You must help expand on this concept for them. If you want your child to grow up with a positive outlook and be happy as adults, spend some time helping them cultivate their self-esteem.
We know that showing our children love with hugs, kisses, and spending time together is important for developing positive self-esteem. But children also need to be told these things. Vocalize your feelings in addition to showing them. Tell your child you love her. Tell her she’s special and wonderful. Tell her when she’s doing a great job, whether she’s playing nicely with her sister or she’s helped clean up. These things are a big deal to your kid. An added bonus is that good behavior that is praised always comes with repeat performances. Our children want our love and acknowledgment and they’ll do anything to get it.
This is especially important for younger children. Allow them opportunities to make decisions during the day. These shouldn’t be difficult choices either. Giving them a choice of snack items like apple slices with peanut butter or hummus with carrot sticks allows them some sense of control. Even for something so seemingly simple, it aids in building their confidence.
Small children don’t always know how to interact with others. They look for your cues. Be warm, friendly and patient as you encourage them to make a new friend in the play group or in the backyard. For example, if your son is in the sandbox and meets another little boy, maybe he doesn’t know how to approach that boy to play. Show him how to introduce himself and how to ask the other little boy if he wants to play or share toys. You may need to do this a few different times before your son gets the hang of things. When he starts doing it all on his own or you see him sharing and playing well with others, make sure you give lots of praise to help motivate him to keep doing what he’s doing.
This is particularly important as your child begins school. She will begin to compare herself with the other children in her class. When she falls short of the others in certain areas, remind her of what she is good at. She might have the slowest running time in P.E. but in reading, she might be at the top of the class. By letting her know that she excels at something, she’ll soon see that she doesn’t need to be the best at everything in order to be loved.
After a day at school, even if their day has been the best day possible, hug your child when he comes home. Children need this physical contact. It shows them they were missed and that you were thinking of them while they were away.
When your child hops into the car from the pickup line at school, be sure to actively ask about their day. At home, ask about their homework. If your child is too young to do assignments completely by herself, sit with her and explain what she’s supposed to do. If she’s old enough to do it on her own, find out about the assignments and offer help if it is needed. Be sure to check it over too. Having an active interest in your child’s studies shows you care, plus you can easily monitor if there’s something your child needs more help understanding.
Pushing your child to take sports if he hates them isn’t the way to go. Instead, see what’s appealing to him. Maybe he loves art or music instead. Help him get involved with the things that he likes. It will bring him more joy, instill more confidence in his own abilities, and help him make new friends.
It doesn’t need to be time-consuming or expensive, but spending unique alone time with each of your children individually allows for more bonding. That bonding helps them feel more secure and helps cement their self-esteem.
Your child needs to know that we can’t win at everything we set out to accomplish in life. The earlier they learn this lesson, the stronger and more confident they will be as adults. Everyone knows an adult that could have really used this lesson of learning how to lose graciously and how to win without gloating. Teaching your child how to cope with not getting everything they want every time is an essential life skill as well as self-esteem builder. Disappointment is all a big part of life. Showing your child how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get back into the game of life is one of the best gifts you can possibly ever give to them.
Additionally, when you always make the time to be involved in your child’s life, you’re helping them to feel important and loved. This is what builds the foundation of being strong and confident so their self-esteem never waivers.