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14 Practical Ways to Help Develop Your Child’s Self-Esteem

At a Glance
  1. Self-esteem enables children to develop into happier individuals and face challenges with confidence.
  2. It can be raised through practise and compassion.
  3. Letting children learn, spending quality time, genuine praise, are just some simple techniques. 

Parenting is a roller-coaster journey of its own. As a parent the greatest gift you can give your child is a sense of high self-esteem. And your questions too revolve around this factor. “How do I develop self-esteem in my child?” parents commonly ask, wanting to give nothing but the best to their child.

Well, we are here to answer all your queries! This write-up will take you through simple yet effective techniques that will help you build self-esteem in your child. Read on!

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Self-Esteem – What is it and Why it Matters

Children with high self-esteem feel loved, confident and competent. They are more likely to venture into new things and face challenges with grit and develop into happy, productive individuals who are sure about themselves. 

Self-esteem goes together with how capable a child feels. It is about how positively a child values himself and his importance. It could be harder for kids with learning and attention concerns for they have to work harder to make progress academically and socially. 

However, self-esteem is something that can always be raised through practise, love and compassion.

Parents play the highest role when it comes to helping a child develop positive emotions about themselves. Here’s how you can take steps further:

1. Be there, but let them learn

There is something to learn at each step for the child. Be it learning to walk or holding a cup, dressing up on her own or riding a cycle. Teach your child first, but let her make mistakes and deal with the challenges on her own. Don’t go rushing to help but don’t stay completely away either. 

Let her try, fall, get up again and feel proud. As she grows better at the activity, she grows more confident and feels positive about herself.

2. Offer genuine praises

Kids intuitively know when someone’s giving them heartfelt praise and when it is said just to please them. Praise your child often, but don’t do it the wrong way. For instance, saying “that was a lovely dance” will put your child off further when she knows she hasn’t done her best. Instead try saying, “Hey, it is okay. I really liked how you paid attention to improving your movements. Keep up the practise, you’ll do better next time!”

3. Pay attention to the efforts

Don’t just focus on results and achievements. By praising the child for her hard-work and how she went about achieving what she did, you teach her that the process matters, that she is capable of overcoming difficulties. Saying something like, “I am proud of how hard you have been working on improving your spellings” will work wonders in building positive self-esteem. Kids then put in more efforts and try new things. 

4. Say no to harsh criticism

Be very mindful of how you speak your child. Give feedback, but don’t be overly critical. What they hear about themselves, directly impacts how they feel about themselves. If it is too harsh like, “You are irresponsible!” it can take a negative toll on their confidence. Be patient, they have tender minds. Instead you could say, “Okay, you made a mistake. Now let’s see how we can solve it and not make it again the next time.”

Focus on what is next, give them a specific goal to work on, show them if needed. The key is to talk about challenges and mistakes in a way that the child doesn’t feel bad about himself but rather feels motivated to improve.

5. It is okay to not be perfect

Let the child know that mistakes and failures are an intrinsic part of growing up, of all stages in life, of progress. It helps foster a growth mindset. The child then doesn’t let mistakes affect and halt his growth. He takes them in his stride, learns to make changes and move forward. Show your child that there are solutions to mistakes. If he spills food on his clothes, don’t say, “How careless!” Instead try saying, “It’s fine you spilled this time. Next time we will try eating slowly, with pauses.”

6. Focus on growth, on strengths

Help the child understand that there is always scope for learning, growth and change. Help him reframe negative thoughts about his weaknesses into more practical, adaptable ones. Focus on his strengths, it helps boost self-esteem. “I am not confident” can be changed to “What can I do to improve my confidence?” 

Be a guide to the child when needed. All changes happen through practise. Abilities get better with time, strengthening can grow stronger with training. Never allow a closed and negative mindset to foster, it harms the child’s self-esteem.

7. Be a good role model

Remember, children learn a lot by simply observing attitudes and behaviours of their guardians and loved ones. Through your behaviour, let your child know that you value our strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. That you don’t allow weakness to bog you down, instead try and find a solution around it. 

For example, if baking desserts is a problem for you, accept it. Say next time you are going to get a friend’s help and ensure that you will follow baking measurements right. 

Be open, honest and conscious of your actions. When you put effort into daily chores, go through them cheerfully without grumbling, the child observes. He learns to then make his bed, put away his toys with a smile. A job well done by you, teaches him to do the same. 

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8. Assign age-appropriate chores

Don’t shy away from assigning daily chores to children starting they are too young. Believe in their abilities to assist you with basic tasks such as setting the table, cleaning a bookshelf, folding the laundry. When they complete these tasks successfully, it gives a lovely boost to their sense of self-esteem and independence. 

9. The Value of Giving

Self-esteem grows when kids realize they can make a difference to lives around them. Giving not just makes them feel good, it strengthens their sense of empathy too. Consider taking them to an orphanage or old-age home where they can interact with the inmates and distribute necessities such as clothing and food. You could also take up a service project or encourage them to take up one. They will see how service brightens not just lives around but lights up their lives even more.

10. Avoid comparisons and sarcasm

Appreciate your child’s unique gifts and strengths. If your child is good at language and not at math while her cousin is good at the latter, don’t worry. Don’t let your child feel low about it. You could teach her math while providing opportunities to build her language skills further. 

Avoid sarcasm when you are angry, for unintentionally you could belittle your child’s emotions. Remember if the child makes a mistake, it is the action that irritates you, not the child himself. Illustrate this difference to your child carefully. It helps him believe that he isn’t unloved, instead he can change his actions and take the right path. 

11. Spend quality time

The time you get with your child as he grows up is priceless for the two of you. Whether it is a dinner plan or a game together, a bike ride or a walk, use the time to talk to each other. Tell him what’s on your mind, learn more about what is on his. His activities at schools, what he loves doing, his fears, etc. This deepens your bond. 

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12. Empower through trust and freedom

Freedom and trust are essential for holistic growth of children. In the beginning however, you could empower them by giving a set of predetermined choices designed by you and allow them to choose from it. For instance, you could provide an array of extra-curricular activities they could take their pick from and learn. Enabling your child to make these simple choices, trusting his decision and giving him wings to fly prepared him for tougher choices in the long run that is life.

13. Encourage extra-curricular activities

Co-curricular activities matter not just for the child’s all-round development but helps boost their self-esteem too. When they have something like dance, music or sports that they enjoy and gradually hone their skills in these areas of interest, it makes them confident that they have a valuable skill to offer to the world. Of course, learning to make friends is another plus of this process. 

14. The age-old technique of story-telling

Nothing inspires all of us, more so children than a well-told story! When you spend time with your child, revive this ancient and loved technique of imparting invaluable values. You could tell him stories of how his favourite characters overcame challenges. You’ll could even role-play situations that hold a lesson. Open-ended stories help them think and interpret. Our culture and folk too is replete with such inspiring tales! This activity strengthens your child’s value-bases foundation which sees him through his entire life.

Key Takeaways – 
  1. Guide the child, but let them fall, try, try some more and succeed. It gives a huge confidence boost. Trust your child.
  2. Heartfelt praise, focussing on efforts, saying no to critical comments go a long way. Give them opportunities to build on their strengths.
  3. Add story-telling to the time you spend with your child. Let this time be qualitative and inspiring, thus deepening your relationship.
  4. Teach your child the values of learning through mistakes and giving to others.
  5. Be a good role model. Your child observes you the most. 

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