Self-esteem is important throughout life, but it is in childhood when its foundation is laid. It’s our job as parents to help our children build self-esteem. We may do and say things that are bad for our kids’ self-esteem without even realizing it, so it is important to make a conscious effort to help them develop and maintain a positive opinion of themselves.
Listening to Your Child
One thing that parents often overlook is the fact that children need us to listen to what they have to say. When we don’t, they feel unworthy of our attention. And that can put a damper on their self-esteem.
Making it a point to listen fully to what your child has to say will let him know that you value his stories and opinions. Sometimes we just don’t have the time to listen at the very moment they want to talk, but it’s important to let them know that it’s not because we don’t want to. Set a time to sit down and talk if necessary, and stick with it.
When Your Child Misbehaves
When children are misbehaving, it is easy to forget about keeping their self-esteem intact. But it is very important to make the distinction between bad behavior and a bad child.
By describing the specific behavior as bad rather than telling your child that he himself is bad, you can let him know that it is not him as a person that you disapprove of. It is his actions. Children who feel that their parents disapprove of them are not only more likely to develop low self-esteem, they also tend to misbehave more.
Give the Right Kinds of Compliments
Complementing your child when he does well is important because it reinforces both self-esteem and good behavior. But even compliments can sometimes do damage. Backhanded compliments do nothing but cause hurt feelings. Try to refrain from alluding to negative things your child has done when giving compliments. You can accomplish much more by keeping praise completely positive.
It’s also important not to overdo the praise. While it is great to recognize the good things your child does, it is possible to put too much pressure on him. Being specific with your praise, such as telling your child you are proud of him for bringing his math grade up from a C to an A, accomplishes more than telling him that he is the smartest kid in the class or the world.
It is important to start building a child’s self-esteem at a young age. Doing so will encourage him to be the best that he can be and to resist peer pressure. By listening to our children and keeping their self-esteem in mind at all times, we can raise them to be happy, confident people.
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