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Top 5 ways to boost your child's self-esteem

Molly Cerreta Smith has enjoyed a career in the publishing industry for more than 10 years. As an editor of several regional magazines, she has had the opportunity throughout her career to meet many local celebrities, businesspeople, ent...

Amp up your child's ego

Come back-to-school time, you may find your child getting a bit anxious to return to class. But with these five easy self-esteem boosters, he'll be ready to head back to school with his head held high.

Teach them to compliment themselves

Stephanie Owens, MA, coach, speaker and author suggests teaching your children to compliment themselves rather than you constantly complimenting them.

She says, "When you want to encourage your child to feel good about him or herself, you tell them what you think about them. Even the most positive, supporting words roll right off like Teflon if he or she sees themself differently."

But wait... don't forget the importance of praising your kids >>

Instead, she encourages parents to "help [kids] build [confidence and self-esteem] from the inside out. There’s infinitely more power in the words kids speak aloud than any positive strokes that come from outside."

Simply ask your child to tell you what she likes about herself. She admits, "They might be shy or uncomfortable about this at first. To get the wheels turning, smile lovingly and ask questions like, 'Tell me what’s so special about you?,' 'What do you like/love most about yourself?' or 'Do you know what I appreciate about who you are?' (Be ready with a short list of specific traits… not actions. For example, 'You have such a good heart' versus 'You always take care of people.'"

Appreciate their talents and encourage their dreams

Allow your children their own dreams and help foster their natural talents and gifts.

PCI certified parent coach and certified family manager coach Susan Heid suggests, "Whatever way your child is gifted, embrace it. Often as parents, we want things for our children that we didn't have. This can unwittingly crush their tender dreams. Allow for their self-expression and accept them for who they are."

Get more details on helping your child discover her talents >>

She adds, "When your child says they have an aspiration, get 
behind it."

Take time for your kids

Part of boosting your children's self-esteem involves making time for them and making them feel like an invaluable member of your family, according to Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, a nationally known psychotherapist, author, public/keynote speaker and television and radio commentator.

Rapini suggests ignoring everything else for a little bit while you spend some quality time with your kids, saying, "When you are with your kids on a play day, walk or activity, shut your phone off. Nothing is as important in your life as this moment."

She also encourages families to start a "family day" once a week in which you all engage in activities/hobbies you share.

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Rapini adds, "Take time and cook with your children. Take time and fix things around the house with your children. Take time and help your kids with their homework. Take time and go to your kids' after-school activities." Notice a pattern here?

Increase your child’s sense of mastery

Dr. John E. Mayer, author and expert of families, encourages parents to help their child gain a sense of mastery, adding that the younger your child is "the more effective it is to do this through a physical task or activity."

He notes, "Let your child choose an activity for the whole family to participate in. Let them set or even make up the rules of the game and then everyone joins in. Let your child plan and choose the foods/dishes for a family meal or better yet, even a family party. Or, if you have several children let each child choose a dish for the party and then label that dish, 'Jessica's Creation' or 'Dwayne's Dessert.' Of course, let them help in the preparation. See their delight when the company loves it!"

Provide the proper environment

Anastasia Gavalas, MS, SDA, family life teacher, author and mother of five says, "Providing a nurturing yet independent environment for children to discover their preferences and strengths helps them develop confidence in themselves and their sense of self."

Perhaps the best tip ever, Gavalas adds, "Love children without conditions and for who they are.
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More on child development

The myth of self-esteem
Does self-esteem promote childhood obesity?
Confidence: Help your child gain confidence

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