A feeling of self-worth affects a child’s ability in many areas of their life.
It’s most parents’ aim to ensure their child feels good about himself. As novice parents, we naturally wanted this too. We’d run around praising our “little Johnny and Jane” for every little thing they did trying to help them develop a healthy self confidence. One thing it didn’t take us long to learn, was how frighteningly easy it was to boost or knock their self-esteem. This could happen at any time with, what for us, was just a passing comment or action we gave little, if any, thought to.
We quickly realised we couldn’t pussy-foot around watching every word we said of course, but there were many small steps we discovered we could take to help our kids develop a healthy self-esteem. Here are a few of them:
- We believe in them – it’s important for kids to know they are worthy and loveable. We strive to make our children aware of what an important part of the family they are.
- We give positive feedback and praise – children measure their worth on what we and others appear to think of them. A simple “well done, that was hard but you did it” goes a heck of a long way.
- We let them know it’s okay to make mistakes – our children are learning that they don’t always have to be perfect. It’s what they do after a mistake that matters to us.
- We name their feelings and acknowledge them – we’ve found that if our children can recognise the emotions they’re feeling and sense our acceptance that it’s okay for them to feel that way, they seem more comfortable expressing themselves appropriately
- We try not to criticise them, we criticise the bad behaviour – when things go wrong (and they do) we try to show disapproval of the behaviour not disapproval of them.
- We respect our children – even when we find it deadly boring, we try to show genuine interest in what they’re talking about or have been up to. Hard as it is sometimes, we try to actively listen to what they “flap” on about.
- We don’t dismiss their fears and anxieties – just because it seems trivial to us that they’re afraid of the dark or feel like they’re crap at something, we don’t dismiss these anxieties, etc., we accept that to them it’s a biggie and look for ways to help them overcome these things.
- We give them opportunities to succeed – we create opportunities for them to try new things and take small risks. It boosts their self-esteem when they achieve and teaches them to get up and try again when they don’t.
- We encourage them to make choices – whether it’s what to wear or have for lunch, having them make choices is having them make decisions. The more decision they make, the better they’ll get at being decision-makers.
- We encourage them to reason with us – if they want something, we encourage them to think about the reasons we should give it to them. This works wonders with helping them to trust their inner thoughts and ideas.
- We focus on their strengths and things that interest them – we try to observe what they’re good at, what they like and try and put them in situations that will challenge them in those directions.
It’s not easy and we do have to keep on the ball but, we honestly feel these small things are helping them develop confidence in their individual abilities, the decisions they make and their actions.
Have you done something recently that’s boosted your child’s confidence in any way? We’d love a CANDo email.