Growing a self-confident child is a monumental task for parents. When children feel great about themselves it shows in their work, play and interaction with peers, siblings and others. Here are 12 ways to help boost a child’s self-esteem:
1. Encourage independence. Give your child the opportunity to do what he can by himself. While it can be tempting to “help” your child with self-help tasks like putting on his coat to get out of the house faster, don’t. Children feel good about themselves when they’re able to complete age-appropriate tasks without assistance.
2. Praise the process, not just the results. It can be easy to only focus on winning the game, scoring the goal, or coloring perfectly in the lines. However, when parents focus only on the outcome it’s easy to forget the time, effort and energy that a child put into an activity. Take the opportunity to offer praise for commitment, determination and trying again too.
3. Applaud safe risk taking. While jumping off the top of the bunk bed is never a good idea, going down a new slide can be a great one. When a child tackles new obstacles, tries new things, or puts himself out there, applaud it! When he overcomes and succeeds, his self esteem will grow. And even if he doesn’t, when he knows you believe in him and support him, he’ll be willing to try again.
4. Show unconditional love. Nothing your child ever does should cost him your love. While you may, or better stated will, be disappointed at one time or another in his choice of behavior, it’s important to communicate to him that your love is unwavering.
5. Be a self-confident role model. Your children look to you to gauge what’s acceptable and what’s not. If you want to raise a self-confident person, be a self-confident person. If you feel good about yourself, your kids will feel good about you and the impact they have on your life.
6. Foster an “I can” attitude. Encourage your children to have an “I can do” attitude. Let your child know you believe in him by encouraging him to believe in himself. A child’s self-confidence is affected by how he believes his parents feel about him, so if you communicate you have confidence in your child he’s more likely to have confidence in himself.
7. Play with your child. Parents and their children’s days are often disconnected, especially when both parents work. When the time you spend with your child is quality time, your child will feel like he is a priority. Make it a point to give your child your undivided attention and to play with him and show interest in the things that he’s interested in.
8. Set your child up for success. Don’t take your child bike riding for the first time down a steep hill on a two-wheeler without brakes. Instead start him off on a smooth, flat surface with training wheels to steady him so he can experience his first success. Consider the situations that you put your child in and be sure he has a realistic chance of succeeding.
9. Show physical affection. Whether it’s a pat on the back or double kisses from mom and dad, make it a point to show your child that you love him. While your second grader may not want a hug and kiss in front of his peers, he’ll likely be thrilled to do a secret handshake or take a fist bump.
10. Show that you’re proud of your child. If you haven’t stocked up on refrigerator magnets and trophy shelving now is the time. Let your child hear you talking about how proud you are of him and show that you’re proud by displaying symbols of achievement, whether it’s his first drawing or his academic report card.
11. Avoid labels. Don’t let your child be defined by any diagnosis, personality trait or disability. While you may feel the need to let folks know your child is “shy” or “diabetic”, don’t let those labels define who he is. Your child should proudly introduce himself by his first and last name, not as “Jeffery the diabetic.”
12. Give your child jobs to do. When children have household jobs or chores, it sends the message that they are a part of the family unit, they are depended on, and that their contributions count. Even a two-year-old can help sort socks. Give your child the opportunity to feel like he’s part of something bigger than himself. When you do you’ll see his confidence flourish.