Help your child feel good about himself

Give your child lots of praise for efforts, not just accomplishments. Look for all the good things in your child and tell him how proud you are of him.

Improve Your Child's Self-Esteem

A parent has a major influence on his child’s self-esteem.  Self-esteem is the collection of beliefs or feelings that we all have about ourselves.  How we think about ourselves – either positively or negatively – influences our attitudes, behavior and success in life.  If your child has confidence in herself she’s also more likely to fight off peer pressure and stay away from drugs and alcohol.

Whether your child is a toddler or a teenager, you influence how he thinks about himself.  In order to encourage your child to build good self-esteem keep these things in mind when talking to him.

  • Be empathetic. See the world through your child's eyes.
  • Communicate with respect. Don't interrupt or put them down.
  • Give undivided attention. A child feels loved when we spend one-on-one time with them.  If your child wants to talk with you turn off the television or put the newspaper down.
  • Accept and love your children for who they are. This will allow them to feel more secure in reaching out to others and learning how to solve problems.
  • Give your child a chance to contribute. This communicates your faith in his abilities and gives him a sense of responsibility.
  • Treat mistakes as learning experiences. Children whose parents overreact to mistakes tend to avoid taking risks, then end up blaming others for their problems.
  • Emphasize their strengths. A sense of accomplishment and pride gives children the confidence to persevere when they face challenges.
  • Let them solve problems and make decisions. Avoid telling your child what to do; encourage her to come up with solutions to problems.
  • Discipline to teach. Do not discipline in a way that intimidates or humiliates your child.
  • Don’t let your child have negative thoughts.  When your child says “I can’t do math,” as a parent you need to address this negative attitude.  A good response might be:  “You are a good student.  Math is just a subject that you need to spend more time on than others.  We can work on it together.”
  • Unless other people are specifically meant to be included, hold conversations in privacy.  The best communication between you and your child will occur when others are not around.
  • Use words of encouragement and praise.  Such as I like the way you do that, I’m proud of you, I’m sure glad you are my son/daughter, I love you.
  • Reinforce efforts to keep communication open.  Do this by accepting your kids and praising their efforts to communicate.

Keep these suggestions in mind when talking with your kids.  How you interact with your child can encourage her to think more positively about herself.  You can build her self-esteem simply by communicating with her in a positive manner. Remember that your kids rely on you for many of their beliefs.  If you show them that you believe in them they will in turn learn to believe in themselves!

Help Your Child Develop Self-Esteem

If your child is feeling unimportant or worthless, it will likely lead to sad emotions and prevent her from making new friends, doing well in school or trying new things.  Low self-esteem is also a common factor in experimenting with alcohol or other drugs and other destructive behavior.

Having strong self-esteem is essential as your child grows up.  As your child gets older, he will face many challenges and having a healthy self-esteem is essential making safe and healthy choices.  Thus, it is extremely important for your child to know she’s worth a lot.

While it’s important for parents to take an active role in boosting their child’s self esteem, parents also need to teach their children how to take responsibility for their own feelings and sense of self-esteem.  Providing your child with this information and support will help give him the confidence and decision making skills needed to have a healthy sense of self-esteem. 

Here are some things your child can do if he thinks his self-esteem is low.  You might even want to print the list out for him/her to keep.

Make a list of the stuff you’re good at.

It can be anything from playing an instrument or painting to playing a sport or doing well in a subject at school.  If you have trouble making your list, ask your Mom or Dad for help.  Next, add a few things to your list that you’d like to be good at.  Ask your parents to help you find a way to learn how to do the new things on your list.

Give yourself three compliments everyday.

Don’t just say stuff like, “I’m nice.”  Be specific about something you like about yourself.  For example, “I was a big help to my Mom today in the kitchen,” or, “I did a great job of paying attention in Math class.”  While you’re at it, before you go to bed each night, tell yourself three things that made you happy.

Remember to be proud of your body.

It belongs to you, no matter what shape, size or color it is.  If you are worried about your shape or size, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy.  Remind yourself about things you like about your body.  For example, “I have strong arm muscles—I’m good at using them to play tennis,” or, “I have healthy eyes—I’m a great reader!

Remember to accept the things about yourself you cannot change.

You should acknowledge and learn to love these things.  They are part of what makes you special.

Turn negative comments in your head into positive ones.  When you start to hear yourself say bad things, tell yourself to stop.  Then replace those bad thoughts with good ones.  For example, instead of saying “I’m so stupid because I can’t even do my math homework,” say to yourself, “I know if I ask for some extra help, I’ll be a pro at these math problems in no time at all.” 

By focusing on the good things that you do, instead of the negative, you’ll learn to love and appreciate yourself—the main factors of high self-esteem!

Ways Parents Can Boost Their Child’s Self-Esteem

Parents are more capable of promoting their child’s self-esteem than anyone else.  It’s not really all that hard to do.  In fact, most of the time parents do it without even realizing that what they say and do is having a great impact on their child feels about himself.  Here are some great suggestions to help parents actively promote their child’s self-esteem:       

  • Tell your child when you feel proud of him. Parents are often quick to express negative feeling to their kids, but for some reason share their positive feelings with more difficulty.  Your child isn’t always sure when you are feeling proud of him, so he especially needs to hear from you frequently that you’re happy he is part of your family.  Children remember the positive things we tell them.  They actually store them up and repeat our encouraging words to themselves, which makes them feel loved and wanted.  Make sure you practice giving your child lots of encouragement every day.
  • Be generous with words of praise.  When praising your child, use vivid description to let him know exactly what he did well.  Of course, this means you’ll need to start looking for times when your child is doing a great job and/or showing a talent.  Once your child completes a task you can say, “I really like the way you shared your toys with your little sister.  I know it can be hard to do sometimes, and sharing your toys shows how much you care about your sister.”  Or, when your child shows a talent, you could say, “You had a great game today!  I can tell you’ve really been practicing hard at playing soccer.”  You can also use praise to reinforce your child’s behavior.  You might say, “I really liked how you came in for dinner on time tonight.  It shows how responsible you are.”  Also, make sure to visit 101 Praises for Kids.
  • Avoid criticism that comes across as ridicule or shame.  All kids need verbal discipline from time to time.  However, if the criticism is directed at the child as a person rather than being directed at the child’s inappropriate behavior/actions, it can easily deteriorate into ridicule or shame.  It is important to learn to use "I statements" rather than "You statements" when giving criticism.  For instance say, "I would like you to keep your toys in your toy box where they belong instead of lying all over your bedroom floor," rather than saying "Why are you such a lazy slob, and why is your room always a pig sty?"   Using the “I statements” do not harm your child’s ego or self-esteem.
  • Use a positive approach for establishing boundaries and consequences for your child.  All children need to accept responsibility for their behavior, and learning self-discipline is a very important aspect of growing up.  To help children learn self-discipline, the parent should approach their role in this aspect of their child’s development by acting as a coach/teacher, rather than a disciplinarian/punisher.  When you are fair, firm and friendly when dealing with your child, you will help them accept responsibility for their behavior (both bad and good) without internalizing the “badness” of their actions.
  • Laugh with your children and encourage them to laugh at themselves.  People who take themselves too seriously are certainly missing out on a lot of fun in life!  A good sense of humor and the ability to make light of oneself is an important part of living a happy and fulfilled life.  This lets kids know that it’s okay to make mistakes—we all do it!