I Feel Lucky: 5 Ways to help Your Child Feel Good About Himself
Self-esteem, that feeling of self-worth is something that we all develop as infants. When we feel loved, when our accomplishments are valued as much as our failures are acknowledged, then we experience self-worth. Children with a great self-esteem are better placed at dealing with various challenges in their lives; they understand themselves, their strength and their weaknesses. They can make sense of the world with a more optimistic approach. Here is how you can help build your child’s self-esteem:
1. Help Him Deal with Weaknesses and Strengths
Children are easily discouraged when they do not perform as well as they might want to. This can be a major cause of low self-esteem. Help your child to understand and accept his weak areas and to focus more on his strongholds. You may say something like, “I understand you feel bad that you did not make it to the dance club. But you are so good at baseball; we can work together to make you even better so you can make it to the team.” It is best to be honest with your child about where his real capacity lays.
2. Give Him Independence
It feels good to try out new things. Novelty can bring in a renewed sense of purpose and self-worth. Encourage your child to do new positive things that may be of interest to him. Whether he is looking to take up a new spot, develop a new hobby, or try out a different type of food, allow him to explore these things. He will encounter new challenges that will teach him new lessons and perhaps help him to build on his strengths.
3. Allow For Mistakes
Do not be too strict with your child. All him to make mistakes and to learn from these mistakes. A household where mistakes are acceptable as part of life, children are less likely to feel bad about themselves or to doubt their capacity. If your child tries riding on his bike, loses control and rums into the kitchen door, yelling at him and saying that he is a bad boy will certainly dampen his spirits. It can lower his motivation to try anything. Instead, commend his efforts at trying to ride his bike and perhaps ask him to practice riding away from the glass doors.
4. Watch Your Words
Words are powerful. They can make or break a child. Watch how you address your child or respond to him. Refrain from name-calling or labelling your child. When you keep calling your child a ‘no good jerk,’ a ‘stupid boy,’ a ‘lazy girl,’ she or he may internalize these phrases and start to believe and act stupid, lazy or like a jerk— there goes their self esteem. Instead of saying to your child “You did not put enough effort or you could have made it to Yale,” it would be best if you said, “I know you really wanted to make it to Yale. But, you did your best and I am really proud of the efforts you put in your studies.”
5. Have Realistic Expectations
Children, like adults, feel great when they accomplish something. While it is important to have expectations for your child, you need to be realistic about what he can and cannot achieve. When you set an expectation, take into consideration the child’s age and his true capacity. Giving him a task that he will surely be unable to complete successfully is setting him up for failure; repeated failure can tumble your child’s self-esteem.
Overall, the best way to boost your child’s self-esteem is to show him genuine, unconditional affection.