Helping your child grow up with strong self-esteem is the most important thing you will do as a parent. This is because a child with high self-esteem has the best chance of being a happy and successful adult. When you give your child the gift of self-acceptance, you will be providing them with the psychological armor they will use throughout their lives.
Lifting Your Child’s Low Self Esteem
The book, “Self Esteem” by Matthew McKay, Ph.D. and Patrick Fanning, lists 5 ways to immediately begin reinforcing your improving your child’s self esteem:
1. Spend time understanding your child’s positive qualities. Look at every aspect of your child, including: physical, social, intellectual, and emotional. For areas where your child demonstrates certain talents or skills, find ways to point these out to them on a consistent basis.
2. On the other hand, also spend some time understanding your child’s more negative qualities. Then, ask yourself the following 3 questions:
a. What need is being expressed by this behavior?
b. Can I see a positive quality being expressed by this behavior?
c. How can I help my child express this quality and meet their needs in a more positive way?
Here’s an example. If your child has a hard time sitting down to focus on doing their homework, you would answer the first question above by realizing that the need being expressed by your child is to release physical and nervous energy. In answer to the second question above, you could see the positive quality being expressed is energy that could be an asset if channeled in the right way. Finally, when thinking about the third question above, you could help your child express this energy in a more positive way by encouraging them to join an after-school sports team or allowing breaks during homework. By allowing your child the physical outlets they are seeking, you will help them turn their negative behavior into the positive behavior of sitting calmly while doing their homework.
3. Find occasions to praise your child. Display their work, trophies, stories, or art creations proudly. Share stories of your child’s patience, inventiveness, determination or creativity with others while your child is present.
4. Give your child opportunities to display their abilities frequently. Is your child good at swimming, reading, thinking, or some other activity? Think of ways to bring out and challenge your child in these types of pursuits.
5. Really listen to your children. Don’t read the paper or continue doing your crossword puzzle when your child is trying to speak to you. It shows them that you’re not really listening to them. Even if you tired, try to listen in a way that communicates your interest and invites your child to share more.
The Power of Parents on a Child’s Self-Esteem
As parents you will always remain the most important people in your children’s life. You can teach your child to see themselves as competent or incompetent, effective or helpless, worthless or lovable. The drive for parental acceptance often continues long after parents have died. Therefore, it is essential to see your children’s value and really learn to appreciate them so that they develop the strong self-esteem that will last them their entire lifetime.
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