Self-esteem is how we feel about and view ourselves. Self-esteem directly impacts on how children behave and feel. Having a realistic and positive view of self is important for a child’s happiness, security, and functioning. A child with good self-esteem will be able to act independently, manage peer pressure, willing to take on new tasks, manage emotions, and be able to assume responsibility for their behaviour. Conversely, a child who has limited or poor self-esteem is likely not to recognise positive characteristics, be easily influenced by others, avoid trying new things, be unable to tolerate emotions, and possibly feel unwanted or undeserving.
1) Be generous with praise
Be observant for situations and behaviours to praise e.g. when your child is doing a good job, displaying a talent or behaving appropriately. Say to your child that he/she is doing something well or is displaying a positive attribute. Praise all small steps and efforts made.
2) Teach positive self-statements
Encourage your child to talk to themselves positively and teach them how thinking influences how we feel and what we do. For example: “It’s OK that I didn’t win the game today, I tried my best”.
3) Avoid criticism
Feedback on your child’s actions should be stated in positive terms and aimed at the behaviour and not at the child as a person. For example: “Please speak quietly” rather than “Stop shouting”. Another example might be: “I would really like if you made your bed each morning”, rather than saying “You never make your bed”.
4) Help your child to make good decisions
It is important to show your child the sequence of steps involved in making decisions or problem solving. Encourage them to come up with solutions for any problem arising and to work out what might be the possible consequences of each choice. When a child becomes skilled at making decisions confidence will naturally increase and they will manage setbacks more effectively.
5) Encourage your child to be assertive
Show your child how to be assertive, rather than passive or aggressive, in meeting his/her own needs. Praise progress in meeting own needs, such as saying no and given a reason for choice. It is also beneficial to let children settle their own disputes between siblings and friends alike.
6) Promote a sense of responsibility for feelings
Teach your children that they are responsible for their own feelings, but not for the feelings of others. It is also important not to blame your child for how you feel.
7) Encourage your child to develop a range of interests/hobbies
Support your child in developing hobbies/interests which they enjoy. Encourage your child to take part in a number of hobbies/interests.
8) Show children that you can laugh at yourself
A sense of humour is important for a child’s well-being. Show them that life doesn't need to be serious all the time.
9) Spend time altogether as a family
Finally, enjoy your children and spend time with them. Do things together as a family but also ensure that each parent has “one to one” time with each child on a regular basis.
If you find you need more support in promoting your child’s self-esteem, please book an appointment with one of our Psychologists.