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Inside: Discover 8 simple and powerful tips that will help you build self-esteem in kids and encourage them to become independent and confident.
I was preparing dinner when my son came into the kitchen and stopped right next to me. I was expecting him to ask for something, but he just stood there quietly.
This was not a usual thing for him to do so I quickly suspected that he has something on his mind. I looked at him and smiled. I knew that asking questions won’t help at that moment, so I just waited for him to say something.
“Mom, do you think I’m smart?”, he asked after a little while.
“Of course I do!”, I answered. “You’re a very smart boy!”
He avoided looking at me, so I knew something had happened.
“Did anything happen that made you think otherwise?”, I asked.
“No”, he said, “but A. said today that I’m stupid.”
I stopped what I was doing and invited him to the living room to talk.
A. is one of his colleague from Pre-K, and I was very surprised that he would say this. My son started telling me about what happened. I found out that during one of the activities my son made a mistake on his worksheet. A. noticed it and told him that he is stupid because he did something wrong.
“I’m sorry that he said this to you!”, I said. “But what do you think? Does making a mistake make you stupid?”
“No”, he answered quickly. “Mistakes are opportunities for us to learn.”
I smiled because I used to repeat that exact phrase when I was trying to help him develop a growth mindset. And I was so happy that he remembered it!
“You are right! Making a mistake doesn’t make you stupid.”
“Then why did A. say that?”, he asked.
“Do you remember when you got angry yesterday, and you told me that you never want to talk to me again?”
“Did you really mean that?”, I asked.
“No, I was just upset, and that’s why I said that.”
“This happens to everyone from time to time. When we feel angry or sad, or we are upset about something we might tell things that we don’t really mean. Sometimes our words can hurt other people. I think that this is what happened with A. today. Maybe he was mad or upset, and he said things that are hurtful because he felt that way.”
My son smiled at me. He seemed relieved to hear that.
That evening, after dinner, I started a new conversation with him. I wanted him to know that what other people say about him doesn’t define him.
That discussion made me realize that these early years in his life are very important for building his self-esteem. It’s now when he builds an image about himself, and I want it to be a positive image. I want him to believe in himself and feel confident no matter what challenges he faces.
8 simple and powerful ways to build self-esteem in kids
The next day I created a list of the best tips that I discovered for building a child’s self-esteem.
Although I read about building self-esteem in kids before, creating this list was very helpful because it helps me focus on these simple but powerful things that can have a great impact on my child’s self-esteem.
I decided to share this list with you because I’m sure that it can help you as well.
Here are the 8 tips for building positive and healthy self-esteem in kids.
1. Show your child unconditional love and respect.
All kids need to know that they are worthy of love and respect. The easiest way to build a child’s self-esteem is to make them feel loved and secure.
The most important moment when kids need to feel their parents’ love and respect is when they misbehave. Knowing that they are loved and respected even if they are having a difficult time is essential for their self-esteem.
Withdrawing love or treating kids disrespectful when they misbehave sends them the message that they are only worth of love and respect when they do what other people expect from them. This could backfire in the long run and affect their future relationships.
2. Help your child develop competence.
Another important way of boosting self-esteem in kids is helping them develop competence. You can do this by letting them help around the house and giving them age-appropriate responsibilities.
For us, the best solution for doing this was implementing family contributions. My son is very happy to help around the house since we tried this approach. And he feels a lot more confident about his ability to do new things and take on new responsibilities.
3. Give your child choices and let them make age-appropriate decisions.
Kids also feel empowered when they get the chance to make decisions about their life. When they feel in control of some aspects of their lives, they become more independent and confident.
Giving them choices and letting them make age-appropriate decisions is very important even at early ages. It’s an important step for developing positive self-esteem, and it also prevents many power struggles because kids feel more empowered and less frustrated.
4. Help your child develop a growth mindset.
Helping my son develop a growth mindset has been one of my priorities in the last year. Having a growth mindset helps kids be less afraid of trying new things and more ready to face challenges.
Here are all the tips and resources that we used in the last year:
- How to help kids develop a growth mindset (and why this is so important)
- The best activities and resources that will help kids develop a growth mindset.
They were very helpful for us, and I’m sure that they can be a great inspiration for you too! Encouraging your child to develop a growth mindset can have such an amazing impact on their life!
5. Don’t use harsh criticism or sarcasm even if you get angry.
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” – This quote by Peggy O’Mara is so true!
In the heat of the moment, we can be tempted to use harsh words, but they have a very powerful impact on the kids. Young children build their self-image based on what their parents say about them.
This is why it’s very important to use kind words even if you get angry. Children don’t need criticism and sarcasm. All they need is gentle guidance and support for making better choices in the future.
6. Spend quality time with your child on a regular basis.
The time you spend with your child has a direct impact on your child’s self-esteem. When kids feel valued and loved, they develop a positive self-image, and they feel more confident.
If you struggle with making room for more quality time with your kids, here is the solution that worked great for me: The easy habit that will help you spend quality time with kids every single day.
7. Praise your child the right way.
Praising a child can have a very positive impact on their self-esteem but only if it’s made the right way.
The key to making praise helpful is to focus on the effort and not the achievement. This encourages the child to keep trying when things get hard. Also, it helps them feel internally motivated to do the right thing instead of waiting for an external reward when they do something right.
Here is a very helpful article on the AHA Parenting site that provides more details on this: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Praise.
8. Embrace imperfection and accept mistakes and failures.
A very important lesson for your child’s self-esteem is that nobody is perfect. Kids need to see their parents embrace imperfection. This sends them the message that mistakes and failures are normal. It makes them less afraid to take risks and try new things.
It also makes it okay for them to make mistakes. Knowing that they are not expected to be perfect has a very positive impact on their self-esteem, and it makes them more prepared to face challenges.
A high self-esteem is one of the most powerful gifts that we can give to our kids. It can impact their whole life and make a huge difference for their future.
Self-esteem is impacted by many experiences in our children’s life. But in their early years, we can lay the foundation for a strong and healthy self-esteem and this matters a lot!
You can build your child’s self-esteem every single day. Years from now you’ll be very thankful that you did it.
More parenting resources
- What helped me become a calmer mom and be gentle with my child even if I’m angry
- 52 awesome date ideas that will make kids happy
- What to do instead of punishments? 5 gentle ways to discipline young kids
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