11 Ways to Push Your Child’s Self-Esteem to New Heights
Raising a child could be compared to a dance: sometimes it is necessary to hold them back, and other times it is better to let them go and give them freedom of movement. When it comes to raising independent and self-sufficient little people, this metaphor is very useful, since, as adults, we must serve as a guide and example for children, while trying not to suffocate them with our criticisms, demands, and fears.
1. Let them help with household chores.
Children can learn a lot from your experience with household chores. Getting involved helps them understand what they need to do to take care of themselves, the house, and their family. It also gives them a chance to feel responsible and competent. Of course, not all chores are suitable for all ages, here are some ideas according to the stage your children are at:
- Pick up toys and books.
- Put clothes on clothes hooks.
- Set placemats on the dinner table.
- Set the table for meals.
- Help with preparing meals (under supervision).
- Help with grocery shopping and putting away groceries.
- Water the garden and indoor plants.
- Take out the trash.
- Vacuum or sweep floors.
2. Try to always listen to them.
This sentence is closely linked to the previous one, we can’t say “I’m here” if, later, when they want to tell us something, we don’t have time to listen. That sends a completely opposite message: “I’m not here,” “I don’t have time for you.” The moment your child wants to share something with you is the best time to show them that you are really there.
Stop what you are doing, for you it will only be a few minutes, but for your children, it will mean that you care and that they can count on you. Listen carefully, don’t make fun of their story or downplay its importance. If they wanted to share it with you, it is because it is important to them. Don’t interrupt them. If you want to give your opinion or add something, wait until they finish.
What you can do is show interest and excitement in what they tell you: “Really?,” “Wow,” “Amazing,” children love this. This is an ideal way to start building good communication with your children and reinforce their confidence in you. Then, as they get older, they will want to continue to share their experiences and concerns with you.
3. Tell them how much you love them.
We take care of them, look after them, pay for their education, arrange their after-school classes, buy them everything they need, and even don’t sleep a wink when we are worried about them. All this and more simply because we love them and they are the most important thing in our lives. However, for a child, reaching this conclusion is not as simple. That is why specialists recommend that, in addition to showing children our love through our actions, we should also do it verbally.
These 2 phrases are extremely powerful — a positive reinforcement with multiple benefits:
- It strengthens the bond between parents and children and improves family communication.
- It gives children confidence and peace of mind, as they feel surrounded by love.
- It reinforces their self-esteem and helps them to love and accept themselves as they are.
- It allows them to grow happily, transmitting and providing that happiness to their whole environment.
- It strengthens their emotional intelligence and their relationship with their feelings.
- Children who feel loved are positive and optimistic.
- They show politeness and respect for others.
So, whenever you can, take the opportunity to tell your children how much you love them between hugs and kisses.
4. Apologize to them.
As imperfect human beings, we all make mistakes, mom and dad included. And what better way to teach our children to accept and take responsibility for their mistakes than by leading by example? When they see that we, their favorite superheroes, put aside our ego and ask for forgiveness, they will realize how important it really is.
Many times, we not only do not ask for forgiveness, but we force our children to do it. In these cases, we send children a very confusing message. Instead of fostering empathy for others, by forcing them to do something they don’t want to do, they feel that we are victimizing them, causing them to put their focus on their personal discomfort and not on that of the real victim.
Therefore, whenever you think you have made a mistake — raising your voice too high, applying an undeserved punishment, or being unfair in any aspect with your children— offer them a sincere apology that is adapted to their age. Explain where you went wrong, how you feel about it, and what you’ve learned from it so your children can understand and apply it as well.
5. Encourage their autonomy by showing faith in their abilities.
This point can be summed up in one simple sentence: If you believe they can do it, your children will believe it too. We are used to leading the way, teaching, and guiding our little ones. We might even think that it is the children who have to trust adults and not vice versa. But yes, we should trust them more in their strengths and desires and, moreover, transmit to them our faith in their abilities. This is the best way to raise confident people with a strengthened self-esteem.
6. Try to understand and listen to them.
This phrase reflects empathy and a connection with our children’s feelings and makes it clear to them that they can count on our understanding and support. For both children and adults, knowing that someone understands us makes us feel supported, identified, and calmer.
When children feel that they aren’t understood, they become frustrated, and this frustration can lead them to develop very negative feelings that lead to inappropriate or aggressive behavior, unjustified tantrums, uncontrolled crying, and screaming, among other things. This is their way of desperately expressing all the incomprehension they harbor inside.
A simple and honest “I understand you” at the right time can make all the difference. We can give even more strength to this phrase by sharing an anecdote in which we have lived a similar situation or have felt the same as them. This way they’ll see that not everything is always perfect and that good and bad things happen to everyone, including mom and dad.
7. Don’t do things for them.
In some situations, you may be in a hurry and it may be more simple to do things yourself rather than waiting for your children to do them. But, this type of behavior can have negative consequences for the development of children’s independence in the long run.
Children learn by doing and by making mistakes, so it is very important to give them the opportunity to do things for themselves and not deprive them of these learning moments. In addition, you will be fostering the discovery of self-confidence and self-assurance.
8. Praise their efforts.
Unfortunately, we cannot use praise like, You’re so smart! Great job! every time. Simply because there are ups and downs in life and we as parents need to prepare our children to be strong and ready to face anything in the future. Just imagine that your children come home from school with an A on their test. And then the next week they come home with D. What would you do?
Instead of using the same praise, it’s better to learn how to praise their effort. In this way, you will help your children learn more about themselves, learn about the situation, and figure out what they might do differently the next time. They will find out what is important to them, spend less time asking the outside world to evaluate their work, and create a satisfying and meaningful adult life.
9. Let them make small decisions.
Decision-making is one of the most important skills children need to acquire to become mature, healthy adults. Ideally, give them a number of choices to decide from and increase those choices as they get older. For example, if you go to the store with a 3-year-old who wants you to buy them all the treats, you could tell them that they can’t get everything, but that they do have a choice of candy, soda, or snacks.
Another good idea to encourage decision-making in our children is to let them choose the clothes they want to wear. This will help them build self-esteem, express their opinions, and make things easier for you.
10. Say “thank you”.
As the saying goes, “be thankful for small blessings,” and what better way to teach your child to appreciate the actions of others and to be thankful for them than by leading by example? We don’t mean the typical polite “thank you.” It goes far beyond good manners and politeness. In other words, what “thank you very much” means is: I know what you’ve done, I want you to know that I appreciate it and that it has made me happy. There are many occasions when we can show gratitude to our children:
- On a daily basis: we have an infinite number of reasons for which to thank our children: any kind of help they give us —like setting the table or taking out the trash— even if that something is their responsibility, like tidying their room.
- For their patience: many times, even if we don’t notice it, the little ones make really big efforts to be patient in moments when they are bored, for example, at the supermarket, waiting at the bank, or sitting in a traffic jam that doesn’t move forward. They would rather be playing, but they are there, waiting, and it would be a nice gesture on our part to thank them.
In addition to the reasons we have listed above, we know that your child is the apple of your eye, who puts joy and color into your life, who brings a smile to your face even in the worst moments, your main reason for pride and happiness, and all that also deserves a big “thank you.”
11. Help nurture optimism in them.
Kids feel the pressure too when they don’t accomplish the goals they’ve set for themselves. So, when you’re supporting your child, assure them that it is okay to make mistakes. This leads to raising productive kids and it requires patience and the utmost confidence in their talents.
How do you try to teach confidence and self-esteem to your kids? Do you talk to them regularly about the importance of being strong and standing up for themselves?