How Can I Help My Child Develop Healthy Self-Esteem?

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By Brianna Siciliano

As children grow older, they become more and more observant. They listen to what other people around them––especially their peers––have to say. Kids pick up on all sorts of actions, beliefs, knowledge, and images, and unfortunately, sometimes these are not positive. How children feel about themselves can depend on many factors, including standards that have been set for themselves, the environment their time is spent in, and experiences that they have grown up through. Although some of these factors are out of your control as your child’s parent, others can be influenced by you!

If and when you hear your child make a negative comment about herself, call your child out. Let your son or daughter know that he/she is a beautiful and special blessing, and how great he/she is in different areas. Point out things that your child should be proud of, for example their hard work in a certain activity or sport, their good grades, or their great relationships with others. Different people excel in different categorizes! Make sure your child knows how great he or she is!

To boost your his or her self-esteem, it is important to help your child recognize and modify the negative thoughts about him or herself. Being reminded of their importance, and having their incredible abilities pointed out, is a major confidence boost to children. Saying something as simple as, “You have been doing a great job in school lately! All of your hard work is paying off.  I’m very proud of you!’ will let your child know that they are noticed and valued.

As a parent, it is extremely important to be careful of what you say because kids are very sensitive to parents’ words. Remember to praise your child for their effort and their successes. When a child doesn’t achieve something, like for example making the soccer team, he or she is in a vulnerable place. Instead of saying something like, “You’ll make the team next time, you just need to work harder,” say something along the lines of, “You didn’t make the team, but you put in some great effort and I’m proud of you!” This will have a much better end result for your child’s self-esteem.

Parents can also help by being positive role models, giving positive and accurate feedback, and being affectionate and spontaneous. Children look up to their parents and learn a lot from their home environment; if a child sees their mother loving her body, then the child will want to love their own body, too!

Kids should grow up feeling special and great, not normal or average. With your help, your child can feel like a million bucks. Make sure your children know how loved, special, and beautiful they are!