Firstly, let’s try to understand what self-esteem really is. Self esteem maybe defined as a person’s self worth or how a person thinks of himself/herself. It usually develops from childhood and matures until we reach our adulthood.
Self- esteem in children is like a weapon in this challenging world. A child, who is loved and accepted for who he/she is, usually develops a high self-esteem; and is much capable of coping conflicts, stressful situations, and high pressure circumstances. They are better prepared to take on new challenges and live life to its fullest. They know their strengths and weaknesses; they are more optimistic, and even more realistic with reasonable expectation from others.
On the contrary, children with low self-esteem find it difficult to handle stressful situations and challenges, leading to major anxiety, panic, low performance issues, self- doubt and frustration. They have self-critical thoughts which are generalized as being “I am not good enough!” or “I can’t do anything right!”. They become solemn, withdrawn, or even clinically depressed at times.
Self-esteem originates early in life. Once we reach our adulthood, it’s difficult to change the programming we have acquired in the course of our life, or how we have learned to perceive things- old habits die hard. Hence, it would be very wise and intuitive of parents to develop and promote their child’s self-esteem early on.
The following are few tips that would boost your child’s self-esteem.
Let them take risks in life (Raise risk takers)
Let your children put themselves out there; in order to do so you have to step back. To build confidence in children, you have to let your children take chances; make their own choices and let them take responsibility for the choices as well.Throw them in the deep end and they will reach the shallow end on their own.
Let them fall (It is not about never falling, it is about always getting back up)
Sometimes, when children take their first step they fall- please let them fall, and tell them that it is okay to fall, it’s a part of life, you can’t always win. Let children try, fail, try again and fail again; but when, they finally succeed- they learn more about their own capabilities, strength and weaknesses. Many parents think that failure and struggle in life will result in poor self-esteem in children, but it’s actually a golden opportunity to help build it. The rain never stopped the itsy bitsy spider from climbing up, did it?
Unconditional Love (No terms and conditions)
Let your child know that your love is without conditions. Even if she/he makes mistakes or takes a wrong turn in life, it doesn’t make the parents stop loving him/her any less; your doors should always be open to your child- in fact your child must know you are his/her life line.
Be specific in your praise (Don’t just slap a gold star on everything)
Always praise your child in his/her achievements, but be specific. For instance, if a child gets good marks in her/his English exam, don’t just say “good effort”; tell her/him what a great job he/she has done on the essay, and how impressed you were. Do not praise the beautiful drawing your child did on the neighbour’s wall!
Let your child know how proud you are of them (cheer a little louder)
A little goes a long way. Your child needs to know how proud you are of of him/her. They need to know you see them struggle, suffer and win. You need to encourage them when they bring home a trophy- make them a trophy case and get ice cream; and when they don’t, they still deserve an ice cream for trying.
Avoid saying hurtful things (thou shall not hurt)
Children are usually sensitive to critical comments. Parents need to be extra cautious with their use of words. Parents usually end up saying hurtful things or slapping their child- especially when they are busy. So, whenever your child comes asking for your help- though you are on the edge, stop, take a deep breath, see what your child needs and help them; if not urgent, explain gently that you are too busy and will help her/him, but in a little while. Instead of being physical or being loud to the child, try explaining to them calmly. Children who don’t feel safe, or are abused at home, are at the greatest risk for developing poor self-esteem; and they may even resort to a conflicted life.
Set Goals (brief them on objectives)
Teach your children to make goals in life, and help them accomplish them; they may take pride in their achievements which will help a lot in boosting their self-esteem. And also show them the importance of planning. You are never lost when you have a map.
Be a Great Role Model for your Child (Do as I do)
You can’t expect your children to have a high self-esteem, if you are constantly complaining about things yourself, and showing a pessimistic personality; your children mimic you. You need to nurture your own self-esteem and your children will have a great role model to look up to.
Be your child’s counselor
Be your child’s counselor instead of asking others for help. If you think your child is suffering with low self-esteem, try to figure out what could have gone wrong; sit down with your child, talk to him/her, try to listen to him/her, give him/her your undivided attention. Even if the child doesn’t want to talk initially, keep on trying, he will open up eventually. If you are consistent, you should take professional help only in worst case scenarios ,but first you must try it on your own, because you can’t substitute parental love and attention with any professional help; and if, you are not ready to guide your child, then someone else will, that could end badly.
Lastly, parents should acknowledge that promoting healthy self-esteem in children is as important as giving your child three meals and a warm jacket in winters. Healthy self-esteem is the greatest gift that parents can give to their children.