Self-esteem is defined as one’s perception of oneself. Healthy self-esteem is crucial in life. Why? Because it dictates how we relate to others, achieve at school, and perform on the job. As a parent, you strive to raise your child as an individual who believes he is capable, resourceful, and deserving of love. Lack of healthy self-esteem often leads to behavioral issues and mental health concerns, so here are 10 simple ways to boost your kiddo’s self-esteem every day:
1. PROVIDE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
Let your kiddo know you’ll love him no matter what. This doesn’t mean you have to condone poor choices or behaviors, but your child needs to know you’ll stick by him through thick and thin. Fear of abandonment is at the heart of many psychological disorders, so avoid it at all costs by letting your child know you’ll never quit being his parent.
2. PAY ATTENTION, FOR REAL
Give your child your undivided attention and really listen to him without updating your Facebook status, washing the dishes, or making dinner. It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time (most kids have short attention spans anyway), but set aside some time to talk about your kiddo’s day and find out what’s going on in his life.
3. BE POSITIVE
Sometimes as a parent, you have to fake it until you make it with the positive attitude. If your child perceives you’re unhappy, he will attribute that unhappiness to himself and he’ll think you’re unhappy with him. It’s unrealistic to be happy all the time, but try to keep the worry in check and do your best to provide your child with a backdrop of positivity at home- there’s enough grief in the world.
4. SET LIMITS AND STICK TO THEM
Your child benefits from rules and structure, despite his incessant whining and complaining when you set a limit. Limits help your kiddo feel safe and secure at home. If your child knows what to expect, he’ll trust you and learn to trust himself.
5. ENCOURAGE HEALTHY RISKS
Support your child in trying new things he may be afraid of. Self-esteem is built on small successes and increased belief in oneself. If you think your child can do it, he’ll learn and grow to believe he can do it himself too.
6. REDEFINE FAILURE
Failure is defined as not trying. When your kiddo tries new things, make the goal about the process of trying rather than the end result. Remind your child that Olympians aren’t born being the best at their sport. It takes years of practice and hours upon hours of work to be excellent.
7. MODEL IMPERFECTION
One of the worst self-esteem hang-ups is believing you have to be perfect. Making mistakes is part of being human so don’t just tell your child this, model it for him. When you make a mistake, admit it and about how you’re going to correct it or do things differently next time.
8. IMPROVE YOUR OWN SELF-ESTEEM
If you struggle with poor self-esteem, seek help in healing yourself. This is important especially if you believe your self-esteem is related to how you were parented. Remember, self-esteem is learned and acquired through achievement- it doesn’t have to be inherited.
9. DON’T COMPARE
Do not compare your child to his siblings, his peers, his cousins, or anyone else. Encourage individuality and uniqueness. Ensure your kiddo believes you value him because of who he is rather than how he performs. Give your child focused attention and encouragement simply for being himself.
10. DITCH THE LABELS
If your child has asthma, diabetes, autism, dyslexia, anxiety, or any other mental or physical concern, acknowledge it’s an issue he must cope with rather than a problem that defines him. So many times I’ve heard kids and parents say something like, “It’s because of the autism.” If you allow an ailment or disorder to account for your child’s negative behavior or poor choices, he will never develop healthy self-worth or take responsibility for his actions.
Developing healthy self-esteem is vital and often challenging. What are your words of wisdom for helping your child with self-esteem?
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
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