Friday 7 December 2012

10 Ways to Develop Your Child's Self-Esteem

It’s not uncommon to hear things like this if you venture onto your child’s playground. Kids, and the world at large, can be cruel. Self-esteem can be the thing that creates a buffer of resilience between your child and this cruelty. It also allows him or her to face the struggles of life and succeed.

Countless studies, books, and articles suggest that top leaders and successful people share the trait of “confidence,” or the ability to believe you can do it. The characteristic of seeing genuine value and believing in yourself is irreplaceable. Robert Reasoner, President of the International Council for Self Esteem, reports that kids who feel good about themselves have higher academic achievements and better interpersonal relationships. They also have less criminal and violent behaviors, eating disorders, teenage pregnancy, depression, and suicide.

Self-esteem is developed much like anything else in our lives: over time. It’s not a shot in the arm, given along with other vaccinations, but an internal feeling that waxes and wanes as it is strengthened or weakened throughout life.

Healthy or Unhealthy Self-Esteem: What Does It Look Like?
Children with healthy self-esteem often have many varied interests and show interest in others. They are optimistic about outcomes. They do not degrade themselves or discount their achievements with words like, “I’m such a moron,” or “I never do anything right.” When they meet a challenge, they assertively seek help or engage their little engine that could… “I think I can! I think I can!”
Low self-esteem does not always look the same with every child, but often has similar themes. According to KidsHealth, part of the Nemours Foundation, children with low self-esteem are often anxious, easily frustrated, pessimistic, highly critical of themselves, and struggle trying new things or interacting with others.
10 Things I Can Do!
  1. Never Name Call
    Even sarcasm hurts. Words like “brat” and “fat,” or worse, are sometimes used when children act out, or in an attempt to motivate others. Praise motivates change far better than name-calling.
  2. Give Compliments
    What others tell us about ourselves is a mirror. If I wake in the morning, I don’t know how my hair looks until I look in the mirror. In a similar way, children don’t know how others perceive them until they are told. Giving simple, true compliments can give your child a positive sense of self.
  3. Encourage Your Child to Do Something
    Encourage your child to do things that take significant time and effort. Encourage him or her to continue, even when things get hard, and praise your child’s determination in overcoming obstacles.
  4. Promote an Optimistic Outlook
    Be an example of the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Teach your child how to look adversity in the face and view it as a challenge, rather than a road block.
  5. Be an Example of Humble Confidence
    These two words are rarely used together, but they complement each other. Humility allows us to recognize our weaknesses and limitations, while confidence allows us to see our strengths and have an optimistic outlook. When they are in balance, we believe we can succeed, but know that we need others. The strengths of others are not a threat, but a support to us.
  6. Listen and Let Your Child Make Choices 
    When your child disagrees, listen to why he or she disagrees. Allow your children to make choices and even mistakes. This allows children to gain the confidence that they have the power in their lives.
  7. Foster Criticism Evaluations
    Criticism can be constructive or destructive. Teach your children to recognize the difference. The innate reaction to criticism is to become defensive. Show your children how you accept criticism and turn it into personal growth.
  8. Love Your Children, No Matter What!
    Try not to suggest that your love or acceptance is conditional. This does not mean we don’t enforce consequences, it simply means that our love and affections are not conditional.
  9. Play With Your Children
    It has been said that “love” is spelled “T-I-M-E”. Your children need to know that they are loved. Let them know they are worth your time. Show interest in their interests.
  10. Get Professional Help If You Need It
    Sometimes children suffer with other mental health or developmental problems that contribute to low self-esteem. If you don’t know what to you, don’t be afraid to ask questions and find a professional in your area who can meet the needs of your family.
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are right.” Parents, you can be the ones to help your children think they can!

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