Five ways to help your child build self-esteem & confidence

January 15th, 2013

As a parent you want your child to be confident, to have a positive sense of self, but at times it feels like what you are doing and saying may not be the most helpful thing.  Self-esteem and self-confidence are a gray area, and of course there are no ‘one size fits all’ rules, however here are a few ways that may help your child boost their self-esteem:

1. Help them become problem solvers. It’s just natural for parents to want to protect their child from struggles, right? Really, who wants to see a loved one in pain or hurt?  However, minor bumps or problems are opportunity to learn how to negotiate differences, speak-up for what you believe in, and find ways to overcome life’s obstacles. These experiences provide opportunities for divergent thinking, flexibility, innovative ideas and new possibilities. So encourage your child to seek out ways they can solve a problem before you jump in to fix things. Every opportunity where they tackle something difficult creates a sense of accomplishment and pride, and plants the seeds in their brain that they can accomplish something challenging.

2. Encourage competency. Okay, remember back to psychology 101 and the stages of psychosocial development? If you missed that class here’s a quick overview. Erickson believed we go through stages of development and as we master these challenges we move to the next stage.  For children between 5-12 (Latency) child work to master Competence. This stage is about developing skills, forming values, learning, exploring new things, and mastering interests. Learning to practice, commit to, and follow-through are ways to help your child develop a sense of mastery. Find out what your child is interested in (such as art, music, sports) and help them fine-tune these skills. They will feel a sense of accomplishment and self-pride and they learn and master new things.

3. Acknowledge their attempts and effort. Research shows that when children who work on complex tasks were praised for their efforts, they performed better on challenging future tasks. Children who were told by the researcher “they must be smart” were less likely to take risks on future tasks and increase their performance. Perhaps children who are praised are fearful of losing that praise or being seen as less than (can you relate)? So take time to acknowledge their hard work, tenacity, effort, responsibility, and help them to continue to expand and challenge themselves so that their sense of self is not dependent upon what others think.

 

4. Don’t fake it. Kids are so smart and savvy, and they are on to the things that adults have used over the years to attempt to build self-esteem.  All the kids win a ribbon at the event, game points are not counted, and endless cheering and praise- your kids are on to you.  External praise and declaring everyone a winner does not build self-esteem. Kids are smart and want to know you acknowledge their individualized efforts, keep it real.

 

5. Are you willing to be flexible too?  I often see children blossom in self-confidence and self-esteem when they learn how express themselves and feel like they are being heard and respected. When a child learns some ways to express their needs at times it’s like the floodgates open, often with lots of testing.  Inflexible parents may struggle in this period of growth wanting your child to express their needs, and then realizing that it may mean changing how you do things, your perceptions, or a willingness to do things totally different. To be honest, it’s often easier for a child to shift their behaviors, than for an adult whose been repeating these behaviors for 20 + years.  So take inventory of ways you can be flexible and allow your child to develop their voice. They will feel more empowered, which is a great way to develop their self-esteem. Additionally, if they learn that they can state their needs with adults and be heard and respected (even when you may not agree), then imagine how they navigate those teen years (and beyond) by being able to speak up to their peers about what they believe in.

 

Take some time this week to sprinkle in some of these suggestions into your daily routines and see how your child responds. If you need some more specific to help your child discover their unique abilities then do not miss the International Parents & Professionals Community (IPPC) Guest Faculty Call on Tuesday, January 22nd Topic: The Art of ‘Parenting by the Numbers’ to see your Child as a Unique Masterpiece”, an interview with international guest expert, Diana Dentinger. Click here to learn more about the IPPC https://thecreativityqueen.com/ippc/

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