Children with low self-esteem might feel unsure of themselves. If they think others won’t accept them, they may not participate as often. They may allow themselves to be treated poorly and have a hard time standing up for themselves. Kids who don’t expect to do well may avoid challenges, give up easily, or be unable to bounce back from mistakes. Simply praising your child can actually do more harm than good as well. Here are the DOs and DON’Ts for raising a self confident kid.
DO give children choices
Giving children choices–within a reasonable set of options preselected by you–makes them feel empowered. For example, at breakfast you might offer your child the option of eggs or pancakes. Learning to make simple choices while they’re young will help prepare them for the more difficult choices they’ll face as they grows. Kids as young as two can start considering the consequences of their decisions. Once they know the difference between each situation, leave it up to them. They should have control over their bodies and take responsibility for their choices.
DO spend one-on-one time with your child
Whether it’s grabbing a bite to eat or taking a bike ride, try to schedule some alone time with your child at least once a week. This is a great opportunity to talk about what’s on their mind and to cement the bond the two of you share. Also, let your child know you love her even when they fail or make bad decisions. If all you talk about is performance, they will think you only love them for their report card or the lead they got in the play.
DO assign age-appropriate household chores
In building self-esteem, kids also need opportunities to demonstrate their competence and feel that their contribution is valuable. At home, that means asking them, even when they’re toddlers, to help with cooking, setting the table, making beds, walking the dog, and folding laundry. They’ll increase their feelings of competency and bolster their problem-solving skills.
DON’T do everything for them
Be patient and let them work things out for themselves. For example, it may be faster and easier to dress your preschooler, but letting them do it themselves helps them learn new skills. The more they meet new challenges, the more competent and confident they’ll feel. Start by forcing yourself to stand back while your child takes healthy risks. To build confidence in the world, kids have to take chances, make choices and take responsibility for them.
DON’T draw comparisons between your children
Instead, appreciate each one’s individuality and special gifts. Never belittle your child’s feelings. When you get angry take a short break so you don’t say anything you’ll regret. And keep in mind, you can dislike a child’s actions without disliking the child. Be sure to illustrate the difference to your child. It’s important for you to help your children discover their own unique talents and qualities, and to value their own strengths. But also teach them that feeling special doesn’t mean feeling better than others.
DON’T gush or offer insincere praise
Kids are masters at detecting insincere praise or baseless compliments. Praise your child often, but be specific in your compliments so your words don’t ring hollow. For instance, instead of reacting to your child’s latest drawing with, “Wow, that’s great. You’re the best artist in the world,” try something like, “I really like how you drew the whole family. You even included details like Daddy’s beard.” Although praise is often misused, when it’s specific and earned, it is a valuable self-esteem builder.
We know it’s tough enough being a parent on top of everything else but it’s always good for your child to develop essential habits at a young age. Want to know how you can do that? We lay it down all for you here.
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