As a physician, I see the detrimental effects low self-esteem can have on a child. These five steps will help build self-confidence, from infants all the way up to teens.
Whether your baby has stacked two blocks on top of each other or your teen has scored a goal in a soccer game, congratulate them. This might seem simple, but by the 10th time they've done something, we often forget that they still need our support. Say, "You must be proud of yourself," and teach them that it's a pretty great feeling to have.
By getting them involved at an early age, we are giving them an identity that separates them from others. Structured extracurricular activities, such as sports, music, church groups, Girl Guides or other, similar organizations, allow our children to gain independence, set goals and meet new people. They will develop important life skills, such as determination, perseverance, time management and hard work, which will help in both their personal and professional life as an adult.
According to an article released by the Canadian Paediatric Society, Psychosocial aspects of child and adolescent obesity, obesity can be both the cause and effect of low self-esteem in children. However, it isn't just the weight that affects the child's confidence. Another article, Healthy active living: Physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents, discusses how aerobic exercise is associated with increased self-esteem and decreased depression and/or anxiety. The bottom line is this: Turn off the electronics, and get them involved in sports, exercise and just plain old outdoor fun! For more information on what your child should be eating, please refer to Canada's Food Guide.
Follow your instincts — hold them when they are crying, kiss them when they are hurt, and love them when they are sad. By being there for them, we are teaching them that the world isn't so bad after all. According to a commentary printed by the Canadian Paediatric Society, The promise of the early years: How long should children wait?, developing a healthy attachment with your child will teach them how to cope with stress in the future.
Love yourself. Believe in yourself. How do you expect your child to believe in themselves if the one they look up to doesn't? Stop talking about your flabby tummy or big bottom in front of your child, and start talking about your beauty and your success.
Remember, self-confidence does not mean being the best at everything. It means being happy with your capabilities, and isn't happiness what we all want for our children?
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