Raising Kids with Healthy Self-Esteem
Parents want their children to grow up with good self-esteem and the feeling that she is a lovable and worthwhile individual. Society’s expectations today are exceedingly high for youngsters. Thus, it has become increasingly difficult for them to meet these standards and feel good about themselves. In my therapy sessions with teenagers, I frequently come across youth who feel the constant need of hiding behind a mask and being someone who they are not to impress others or fit in. They are always afraid that their true selves will not be accepted by their peers. As parents, we must ensure that our children grow up into healthy and confident adults by helping them through the challenging task of building and maintaining a good self-concept.
- The first and most important thing for parents to do is to listen to their children’s thoughts and understand their emotions. Listening to your children with empathy tells them you care about what they think and feel.
- The second principle is to create situations that will help your kids experience more success than failures. Do not set standards that are too high for them.
- Praise your child for his efforts and give positive feedback. For example, if your child does not make the soccer team, avoid saying, “Well, next time you’ll work harder and make it.” Instead, say, “Well, you didn’t make the team, but I’m really proud of the effort you put into it.” You want your children to grow up with far more praise than criticism and more accomplishments than failures.
- Combat your child’s negative and irrational beliefs about themselves with positive thoughts. For example, a child who does very well in school but struggles with math may say, “I can’t do math. I’m a bad student.” Not only is this a false generalization, it is also a belief that will set her up for failure. Encourage your child to see the situation in its true light. A helpful response might be: “You are a good student. You work hard in school. Math is a subject that you need to spend more time on. We’ll work on it together.”
- As your children grow, they become increasingly sensitive to the evaluations of their peers. You can help them learn to build healthy relationships with their peers which in turn will help enhance their self-image.
- Another way to strengthen self-esteem is to try and accentuate a specific skill or ability. This may come in the form of athletics, academics, music, or any special talent the child possesses. If your child does not appear to have a particular interest, expose her to different activities so that she can find her passion.
- The next step is to give your children a certain amount of control over their lives. For example: when they are younger your kids can decide what they want to wear if it is appropriate, and when they are older, they can choose their course of study. If you control your kids too much, they might feel that they are inadequate to handle their own lives, whereas too little control might make them feel that you do not care.
- Always make your children feel that they are loved and cared for. Fill your children’s lives with loving words and hugs. Your love will go a long way in boosting their self-esteem.
- Finally, try to model a healthy self-esteem in yourself. Research has shown that parents who have a high self-esteem usually have high self-esteem kids. This is one of the more important principles since you cannot give to your children what you do not grant to yourself: self-love.
Parents can strengthen their children’s self-esteem by treating them respectfully, placing value on their views and opinions, and expressing appreciation. Above all, parents must keep in mind that self-esteem is an important part of every child’s development. Take the time to teach, guide, and involve your child. We are the best chance they have.