Encouraging Self-esteem in Your Children
by Dr. Sarah Brewer
A Nutritionist and Doctor
Self-esteem, or learning to appreciate your own value, starts forming early in life, and is of the most important things a parent can help their child to learn. How? By praising their children so they learn to value their achievements. And when it comes to encouraging pride and self-respect in your children, therapists recommend the following.
Love them unconditionally – show your child that you love them without strings or conditions. Correct behaviour in a positive manner so that, rather than just telling him or her not to be naughty, explain that it's their behaviour that's wrong. You love them, but don't appreciate their behaviour.
Don't compare them with others - appreciate them for their own individuality.
Encourage initiative – so they take on new challenges, such as learning to ride a bike without stabilisers, swim without aids, or try a new food which helps encourage self-confidence in later life.
Listen and empathise – take time to understand your child's feelings and opinions as this will show them they are valued. If they're worried about not being good at something, show them the importance of trying again and again so they can improve. Highlight other areas in which they excel. Point out that not everyone has their own talents.
Encourage positive thinking – a glass half-full rather than a glass half-empty approach will promote perseverance and the knowledge that hard work pays off. Practice will help them do things that may previously have appeared impossible. Be positive whenever possible. If your child deserves praise, make sure they get it.
Allow mistakes - everyone makes them, and it's okay if they don't always get it right. Teach them to see mistakes as part of learning so that, when they do get something wrong, their self-esteem isn't dented.
Spend time with your child – everyone's busy, but simply stopping doing something that's important to you and spending time with your child instead can do wonders for your child's confidence and self-worth. And guess what? It's good for yours too!