Self esteem in kids is something parents worry about a lot nowadays. As the world becomes more and more competitive, complex and negative, parents are constantly thinking about ways to build the Self-esteem in children. If kids have a low self-opinion, no self-worth and are consistently doubting their abilities, it will be difficult for them to handle a future where peer pressure, challenges in career and relationships and choices between right and wrong loom large.
Although not easy but there are ways to help your child understand that they are gifted and unique in their own way and that self-belief is the only key to success.
What is Self Esteem? -First of all understand that a healthy self-esteem is a person’s core belief about their self. It is important that parents start working towards building the self-esteem and self respect of their kids at an early and impressionable age because as the words by Frederick Douglass go “It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men”.
Seven ways to build self-esteem in your child
An infant’s love for his parents is not conditional then why do parents insist on attaching strings to their love? When you say I love you to your kid (and you should say that very often) it should translate that you love them irrespective of what they do or might not do. They should always feel that their parents accept and love them as they are whatever their abilities, strengths, limitations, personality etc.
Be generous with hugs, cuddles and kisses because there is no such thing as too much love. Look at it like a piggy bank of love for kids, keep putting in frequently so that in future whenever there is challenging time or a difficult choice to make, your child will dip into her savings and love will provide the strength & self confidence for whatever decision they make.
Be a role model
Parents and especially mothers are the first teachers of a child. If these role models have low self-esteem, are unrealistic about their abilities and are consistently negative in their self-opinion then the child will simply mirror your behavior.
The first step is for you to love your self and your kids will automatically understand that they don’t need anyone’s approval because they are awesome in their own right.
It is very difficult to not compare your child to others. In fact this starts from the moment a child is born when parents start comparing each and every milestone with kids of the same age. Whether it be weight, height, first steps, potty training etc. Slowly it seeps into your every day interaction with your child and you find yourself saying “Why can’t you be as patient as XYZ” or “Why don’t you try new food like ABC” and very soon “Why don’t you take up Science like he did”.
Stop this behavior right now. Every time you compare your child to some one else you diminish their self-perception and they lose the confidence in their own uniqueness. If any one around your child, be it at school or at home, is indulging in comparison then stop them assertively.
In the mad rush of our lives it is easy to forget to pay attention to the little ones. Remember if you are not listening when they tell you the little things, very soon they will stop telling even if there are big things because to a child every thing they wanted to tell you was big.
Don’t just listen but understand, empathize and validate your child’s feelings. Never dismiss their insecurities, feelings or fears but with love and positive encouragement help them in overcoming them.
Allow mistakes to happen
Let your kids explore new things, take healthy risks and experiment safely. There are chances of failure and mistakes but help them in acknowledging and recovering from those mistakes. Resist saying “I told you so” however grave the mistake. Always reward effort because it will help them realize that not succeeding does not equal failure.
If you make a mistake own up to it, hold your head high and wade ahead. You will be the best role model for a child to understand that if you don’t succeed at first try, try, try again.
It is easy to point out the wrongs that someone is doing but difficult to praise them for what they do right. Whenever your child does something good, acknowledge them and give positive and specific feedback. Instead of just saying “well done” say “It was so nice of you to keep back all your toys”. It gives them an idea of what good behavior should be repeated.
Create a safe and loving home
I can’t stress this enough but unless kids feel safe and loved in their own house they will never be able to love themselves, understand their true potential and live the life in the fullest way possible.
Watching parents argue and fight repeatedly will make them feel powerless. Even if there is a problem between the parents they should make the child realize it is not because of them or anything that they do.Kids should always be able to trust the adults in family to talk and discuss about any problems or issues they might be facing.
There is a fine line between building a child’s self-esteem and inflating their ego. As a parent we have to walk that tightrope therefore be liberal in love and support but also be clear about setting limits and boundaries.
And remember this quote “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~Albert Einstein“