We all know that parents play a massive role in building their child’s self-esteem. Knowing this is one thing, but understanding how to actively help them build their self-esteem is another. It's not always easy, and it's a lifetime process for them but what an amazing thing it is to see your kids comfortable in their skin and knowing exactly who they are.
Below are some recommendations for helping your child feel confident — yet humble — through every stage of life.
Keep your eye on the end game!
Think about the ideal outcome – a young adult with the traits you want for your adult child. Do you want your child to be kind and compassionate? Set up opportunities to develop compassion and treat people/animals with kindness. Resilient? Step out of the way sometimes and let them struggle through something. When they succeed or problem-solve themselves, that gives them a success to look back on. It lets them know their strength.
Life isn’t always kind or easy, we need to encourage them to persevere and thrive.
Develop your own skills
Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook, unfortunately. To top that off, our parents didn’t have one either so there may be things they did that you’d like not to do. Or maybe you’re feeling inadequate? Talk to friends or read up on the issues you’re struggling with. Or get coaching! (;)))? Now is the time that you can really choose how you want to be and how you want your connection to be. This is a life-long connection so try to keep that first in your mind.
Choose your battles wisely
Remember, you don’t have to show up to every fight. If you are clashing or if you feel frustrated and so does your kid take a pause. Step away. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Think about what’s most important to you right now. Decide on one area to address, like chores or homework, and focus on that until you see success. Then use that success to build on when you tackle another issue.
Align the adults
We all parent somewhat differently because we all have different pasts and ideas on what’s important. And that’s fine – good, even. But for those taking care of your children–like you and your partner/husband–they need to be on the same page. The values have to align. Hash out any disagreements on behavior and come up with rules and consequences everyone can live with. It is critical that the consequences are enforced, even when it’s inconvenient for the adults. So if you have a regular appointment or work at a certain time, maybe don’t make that the time you have to be home with a kid who is grounded.
Create opportunities for success
This is huge. Catch them being good. Set small goals that your child can easily attain. Focus on one small step until it is achieved consistently, and then add something else. Celebrate when they are kind or feed the dog without being told. It’s so easy to get caught up in the struggles and the tantrums or eye rolls that we forget our kids are really good at heart. Positive reinforcement is way better for self-esteem than denigration and punishment. Start when they are young, and life is much easier when they get older.
Allow mistakes and failure without judgment
If you are a perfectionist, get help with that now! Chances are high that you will either pass that behavior on to your child, or they will feel judged or defeated if they let you down. Mistakes are literally how we learn–they are information, not life crimes. Let them fail and make mistakes until they get it right – and then celebrate their perseverance. It’s so important to encourage our kids to try new things, take small risks. But they won’t do that if they are afraid to get something wrong–or to find their limits and have you see they aren’t perfect.
Teach what you want them to learn
Be clear about your expectations. Show your child how to do things. Model for them by doing it in your life. Verbal instructions are often insufficient and sometimes we assume our kids know things that they don’t. For instance, these days how to make a phone call or speak to an authority figure. Teach them how to self-advocate from a young age. That shows them that they are important and will build self-worth.
Validate, Validate, Validate
This is so important and also hard sometimes. We need to listen to our kids and let them know that we hear them. By doing that they learn that what they think and feel is important. You don’t have to agree with them to validate them and their importance. You just have to listen hard and encourage them to label and voice their opinions or needs. Help them find their voice.
Raise the bar
Teaching responsibility requires accountability. Building confidence requires that children successfully achieve their responsibilities. When they don’t reach the mark, help them get there – praise their progress and encourage them to finish successfully. When we back down, they step up!
We always hear this. The importance of it is that a child’s self-esteem flourishes when they feel fully supported and safe and loved no matter what they do. We show them their intrinsic value when we accept them for who they are regardless of their strengths and weaknesses, temperament or time blindness. If they know you will always be there to love them and catch them when they fall, they will be much more able to take risks and strive for whatever star they want to reach.