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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
8 Steps To Better Self Esteem For Your Kids

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By Grace Chen

We all want our kids to succeed, and one of the best ways to do this is to give them a healthy self esteem. A strong self esteem is essential to happiness and success. It allows children to learn to be independent and responsible, helping them to take pride in their accomplishments and deal more easily with failures. This also helps them to take on new challenges and new emotions, and makes them more helpful to others and able to avoid unwanted influences.

Self Esteem & Kids

Parents play an important role in building their children’s self esteem. And for something that is so important, it is amazingly easy to do. The things that you say and do as a parent can have a dramatic and lasting impact on how your kids feel about themselves. It may be helpful to for you and your child to take Discovery Health’s Self-Esteem Test to determine the current level of self esteem you both hold.

  1. Be Positive - Parents usually have no problems telling their children negative things, without really thinking about it. What is harder is telling them the positive. Children need to hear what you like about them and how much you appreciate them. Being positive, when it’s a new trait, can be very difficult. However, it can and will improve both your, and your child’s, life.

  2. Give Praise - Honest and generous praise helps to build children up. Describe what they are doing right, when they show a talent, or when they use positive character traits. This helps them to feel better about themselves and also helps to cement the ideals of right and wrong.

  3. Don’t Use Ridicule or Shame - There are times where you will need to use criticism - we learn through mistakes and your children are no exception. However, you should use caution in how you word the criticism. Saying a child is lazy will harm their self esteem, whereas telling them that you prefer that they put dirty clothes in the hamper offers criticism without shame. Giving praise can be especially important before informing them of a mistake or misstep they took. Be clear, when this happens, that you disapprove of the action and not the child. Then help them understand what they could have done better in that particular situation, giving them the tools they need to improve.

  4. Have Children Talk Positively - You should also teach your children to talk positively about themselves. What they think and say influences how they feel. Therefore, if children are going around saying “I’m so stupid” then it will have a negative impact on their self esteem. Instead, help them say things like “If I keep trying I can get this.” Being able to identify characteristics of people with low self esteem can help - people deal with these feelings in a variety of ways, none of which help solve the problem. Knowing what to look for can be the first step towards improvement.

  5. Teach Better Decision Making - Your child may not understand that they make decisions all the time, and therefore making good decisions requires some practice. Parents can help them by assisting children with clarifying the problem, brainstorming possible solutions, figuring out the possible consequences of the different solutions, and helping them to evaluate the effects of the solution that they chose. When a child learns to solve problems on his or her own they will feel better about themselves and will learn a valuable skill.

  6. Avoid Demands - Children can be very demanding at times, and then become angry when they do not get what they want. Teach them how to show preferences instead of making demands and how to properly express disappointment. Children aren’t born knowing how to verbally express their feelings; they may act out in inappropriate or violent ways if they are not taught how to handle these situations. Being clear, open and honest goes a long way in preventing this.

  7. Find & Develop Hobbies - Developing a hobby or other interest is a great way to boost self esteem. Not only will children have an activity that they can succeed in, but it is also something that they can pursue independently. Don’t be afraid to explore!

  8. Allow Them To Settle Disputes - While there are cases where parental guidance is needed, you should allow children to settle their own disputes when possible. This will help them to become independent, be more aware of the feelings of others, and boost problem solving skills. It will also teach them to treat others how they wish to be treated and help them to find alternative solutions to problems.

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