8 Tips to Help Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem

A healthy self-esteem is the best gift  a parent  can give to their children. Developing a healthy self-esteem is one of the most important jobs we have as parents. It is a gift that we can start developing as soon as our children are born and can last throughout their lives.

What Is Self Esteem?

Self-esteem is what you think of yourself, your own self-worth. For me, it is also feeling capable while also feeling loved. A person's self-esteem is reflected in his or her actions, both in HOW and WHAT he or she does. Our self-esteem varies from time to time, but usually the pattern leans toward a healthy or unhealthy view of self. With a healthy self-esteem, a child is more likely to be successful in life.

Although building self-esteem is a lifelong process, the foundation of self-esteem is established in childhood. In other words, the way we parent our children has a major impact on his or her self-esteem. It helps to establish their self-esteem and confidence in themselves.  Obviously we can not have control over everything that happens in our children's life, but I truly think we can consciously decide the way we parent our children.  

Have you stopped and asked yourself the following questions:

Are you parenting in a way that is helping your child to develop a positive self-esteem?

Are you showing your child that you value him or her everyday? How are you doing that? Are you doing that in a way that meets your child’s needs?

Are you using positive parenting techniques to instill a sense of self-worth into your child?

If you haven't thought about these questions it’s never too late to start. I invite you to continue reading because there are several things that you can do to develop a healthy self-esteem in your child. You can do so by implementing the following self-esteem building tips.

Self-Esteem Building Tips

Show them love by praising their efforts.  While they may not have been as successful as you would have liked, praise them for trying their best.  Praise is important for children at any age because it shows you care enough to recognize their efforts. Show them that you love them even when they make mistakes. Teach them that we all make mistakes and we can all learn from them.

Allow your children to make their own decisions.  Let them have a voice in what to wear, what type of music they like, activities, their friends (but always supervise their friendships), and in family decisions when it is appropriate. They may surprise you with their opinions and choices. Make them feel as they always have something important to say and their contributions to the family are valuable.

Be supportive during times of conflict at home, school, or with friends.  Being supportive doesn't mean you automatically agree with them, but let your child explain his or her side of the story and listen to them objectively. Listen to your child and show that you are following the conversation by repeating back what they said, and ask them if what you repeated is what they meant. Even though you may feel frustrated because he or she is in trouble, don't allow reactivity or sarcasm interfere with your ability to connect with your child at that moment. Take a deep breath. 

When you do correct  them, do so constructively.  If you are critical of their actions, explain why and allow them to have a say as well.  Take the discussion seriously and try to stay away from, "because I said so," as that rarely promotes understanding between you and your child. Really listen to your child and try to understand his or her point of view. Always make them feel you care about what they have to say.

Encourage them to develop their talents and do not discourage their dreams. Support your child in their efforts to succeed, even if this is not an activity you would prefer for them. The key is to identify their strengths, and helping your children develop those skills. If music or art is their passion, let them explore and develop their talents. It may become a lifelong hobby or even a career.  However, if you don't support them in their efforts, they may grow to think their talents are worthless.

Genuinely accept which behaviors can be changed and which cannot.  Every child has different needs. Accept who your child is and what are his needs, and set realistic expectations. This can help both you and your child. Nothing can kill self-esteem more than setting unrealistic expectations. For example parenting a child with ADHD, a learning disability,  or depression can be very stressful and draining for family relationships.  Children with these challenges generally expected to present mild to present  moderate delays in academic, social,  and emotional skills. Therefore, they should NOT be compared with other children without these behaviors. That is just unfair and very damaging for their self-esteem and your relationship with your child.

Participate actively in their lives. Parents who are involve with their child and attend to their needs are more likely to have a successful child. Participate in school activities, maintain effective communication with school staff, attend their basketball, soccer, music or  dance class during the weekend. Show your enthusiasm and cheer them up.

Keep healthy family relationships. Avoid sarcasm, guilt, negative questions, and aggression in your communication and in your family interactions. Remember, you are the most important role model for your children. Find a way to express your frustration that does not impact negatively on your  child's well-being.

If you feel that your child has developed an unhealthy self-esteem or that you are struggling to instill a sense of worth to your child, it is important to contact an experienced child and family psychologist as soon as possible. A healthy self-esteem is like a child's armor against the challenges of the world.

A qualified professional can help you develop confidence in your parenting style so you can help your child  thrive. Contact NYC Comprehensive Psychological Services, P.C ( NYCCPS) by phone or email info@nyccps.com to schedule your appointment today. Call 347-781- 4614 for a FREE 15 min phone consultation. Dr. Caraballo is an experienced child and family psychologist in Brooklyn, NY.

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