Self-esteem, or lack thereof, is a widely discussed topic in schools during the teenage years. For good reason, as poor self-esteem in both boys and girls can lead to negative consequences.
75% of girls reporting low self-esteem also report engaging in things such as drinking, smoking, and cutting. While mostly viewed as a female issue, young boys also grapple with self-worth.
Challenges to self-esteem are nearly synonymous with the adolescent experience. But there are things you can do to ensure your own children build positive self-esteem early in life to carry them through later challenges.
Eager to help your child as much as possible? Keep reading below for seven helpful tips to help grow their self-esteem.
1. Don’t Over Praise
Most parents will express that their child is “beyond their age” or “the next famous scientist.” While it’s good to praise and show endless love to our children, over-praising can lead to problems.
Self-esteem can be viewed as a mixture of feeling secure, loved, and competent. Competence requires time to develop.
If young children are always told they are the best or did the best job they could, they may lose some drive to better themselves. Essentially as they age, they may not be good at failing or learning how to improve a skill.
A helpful tip is to praise your kids as they work on something, not just the final version. Say they are doing a school poser project. Don’t wait until they finish to compliment it.
During the process make note of how hard they are working. Maybe compliment them on how they chose colors. Especially praise them if they ran into issues, but found a way to overcome.
2. Allow Risk-Taking
We aren’t talking about letting your 8-year old go sky-diving. But it is important to let your children explore and take risks so they learn to step outside their comfort zone.
Let your children make decisions for themselves and stand aside even if you know something may go wrong (within reason of course). A good example is if you see your child carrying a bunch of carrots on a flimsy plate with one hand.
Even if you see the food start to fall, don’t make a saving lunge. Let them see what happened, take steps to remedy the situation, or ask you for help.
3. Be a Role Model for Them
Children mirror what they see in parents. If you are struggling with self-esteem, it will be even more difficult to foster positive growth in your children.
Don’t feel embarrassed, you are not alone. Around 85% of Americans deal with low self-esteem at one point or another. So much so that it can greatly impact our professional lives.
Even if you don’t verbalize what is going on, kids will pick up on it. It’s been found that kids are influenced more by actions and body language than what they hear. Especially if they aren’t congruent.
This means even if you respond you’re doing well when they ask, they will pick up on your heavy sighs. They will notice when you seem sad. Do your best to show your children how to cope with stress and work through issues.
4. Provide Feedback for Positive Self-Esteem
It probably feels mean, but as alluded to above, it’s better to openly talk to kids rather than falsely inflate their ego. Providing feedback on how they are doing something, especially when they ask, can be a great thing.
Just remember not to do it in a shaming or critical way. If their room is messy, don’t yell “Why do you always leave your room a mess?”
Instead, highlight the current facts and suggest a solution. “You have clothes lying on the floor. Once you clean them up, you can go play outside.”
This type of statement is likely to spur them to actually do the clean. But it will so help them remember to keep their room tidy in the future.
5. Teach About Growth
Negative thoughts can take hold in children and guide their self-worth for years to come. It’s important to instill a growth mentality so they understand and believe they will improve and evolve over time.
Keeping children out of a fixed mindset is important. This is a mindset where they would believe they are as good as they are going to get no matter what they do. Many adults think like this regarding financial situations, fitness goals, etc.
6. Show How to Learn from Mistakes
To encourage a growth mindset, teaching your child how to learn from mistakes is key. Kids need to know it is okay to fail. They also need to know how to recover from failures.
Tell your kids to think about what they will do next time to avoid the situation they are in. For example, your kid forgot to shut a fence door and the dog escapes.
Don’t get angry. Say, “You forgot to shut the door and our dog could have been hurt. Next time double check the door when you come and go.”
7. Encourage Diverse Hobbies and Activities
One final step you can take to help your child have good self-esteem is to encourage or suggest a few hobbies. Not every child is going to excel at school.
When a child isn’t involved in another activity, they may start to think they aren’t good at anything. If they like music, offer to take them to a children’s choir. Maybe they like being active. Try finding a sport that suits them.
If they don’t seem to be interested in a specific activity, you can try these self-esteem activities. The best part is that some can be done together, with you and other family members.
Watch Your Child Blossom with Confidence
It can be scary thinking how much positive self-esteem your child will have as they grow older. The most important thing to remember is to love your child and give them the freedom and power to conquer issues in their own way.
As long as you are there to support them when they need it, everything will be okay.
Worried your child already has low self-esteem? Check out these few tips for helping them.