It’s not uncommon for young children to lack confidence or self-esteem. In fact, a lack of self-esteem begins in toddlers. As parents and caretakers, it’s our responsibility to help build our children up so they grow into well-adjusted, happy, healthy adults.
Ways to Boost Your Child’s Self Esteem
Here are a few things you can do to ensure your little one is growing up with a healthy amount of self-esteem.
Praise Your Child Descriptively
It’s important to give your child specific praise when they are doing a good job or excelling at something. That could be getting a good grade on a test, learning a new diaper changing game, or overcoming a fear. Always try to praise the process they used to get there and not the accomplishment itself or your child may become too results-oriented.
You shouldn’t praise your child for every little thing they do. Instead, take notice of their accomplishments and give them a descriptive complement. Specific praise is more likely to come across as sincere and will demonstrate that you care and have really paid attention.
For instance, instead of just saying “Good job!”, tell them exactly what they did to make you proud. Try something along the lines of “I saw the way you faced your fear of deep water by swimming across the pool. Excellent job!” This will clarify to your child the things they are doing well so that they will be able to grow and expand upon them. While at the same time you are making them feel validated and as though they are worthy of attention.
Encourage Your Child To Praise Themselves
Encourage your child to praise themselves. This gives them to freedom to feel proud of their accomplishments. For instance, after you’ve given them praise for doing something new or challenging, ask them “Are you proud of yourself? You should be!” This will help your child to distinguish when they are doing well and it will encourage them to become more self-motivated.
Set a Good Example
Children model their behavior after adults. So if you want your child to have a healthy amount of self-esteem, it’s important to be a good role model. If kids hear you putting yourself down, they will think it’s something that they are supposed to do.
For instance, instead of saying “I had a really unproductive day because I didn’t get enough done work done” try saying “Given the roadblocks I encountered today, I am proud of the work I achieved”. It switches your focus from the outcome back to the process and puts a positive spin on your experience. It will not only make you a better role model but it will probably make you feel better as well.
Allow Children to Make Their Own Choices
Letting your child make their own small choices gives them confidence in their decision-making ability, which in turn, increases their self-esteem. It also teaches them responsibility. If the outcome of their choice was not as desirable as they might have expected, they will weigh their choices more seriously next time.
Start to give your child the freedom to make their own decisions in small doses. Begin with the option to chose between two things (like the red or blue shoes) and then work up to slightly bigger decisions (like choosing their whole outfit). Letting them independently explore their own interests will benefit them greatly when it comes to helping them build self-esteem.
Coach your child through the decision-making process to foster good decisions. If they make a poor decision, ensure they remain accountable but don’t criticize in such a way they will be scared to make any future decisions.
Avoid Harsh Criticism
This one applies to both you and your little one. Too much criticism can damage your child’s self-esteem and will build resentment and defiance in them. It is important to remember to never compare them to siblings or others either.
If you see your child judging themselves too harshly, intervene and encourage them to practice positive self-talk. Steer them away from “I can’t do that” language and encourage them to use phrases like “I haven’t tried that yet”.
Self-esteem is something that everyone, adults and children alike, have struggled with at some point or another. However, by helping to boost your child’s self-esteem, you are giving them a strong foundation to grow and navigate their way into adulthood. Let your children know that it is okay to make mistakes and fail. When you don’t expect perfection, they won’t either!
Hope this article was useful and beneficial for you. Please leave your thoughts in the comments!