An ancient Chinese proverb says ‘A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark’. The most important marks left on your child are the psychological marks. Between the ages of 2 and 7, you are directly impacting your child’s self-esteem in either a positive or a negative fashion. Esteemed psychologist Dr Denis Waitley says we cannot teach our children self-esteem – we can only help them discover it within themselves. Are you helping your child to discover theirs? Why exactly is self-esteem so important at this age? The most important reason is once these years have passed the opportunity to plant a strong sense of self-belief is lost and the chance of your child developing unnecessary fears and self-limitations is more probable. Self-belief is a crucial part of self-esteem and a child’s lack of success as an adult can be directly linked to the poor development of their self-esteem and their self-image during the formative years.
How To Boost A Child’s Self Esteem
Children with low self esteem may avoid challenging activities or may give up quickly, quit, or cheat when things aren’t going their way. A child with low self esteem may also be a bully, bossy, controlling, have a low level of self control, and have difficulty making friends. Research shows that a positive self-concept is more important to academic success than a high IQ score. Success in school, getting along in a family or with peers all depend on self-confidence. Without it, children’s talents may not be developed as they may be afraid to take risks or be creative. Your child was born with ‘infinite genius potential’. Nurture that potential by regularly telling them how amazing and beautiful they are. Tell them they have special talents and skills. The best thing you can do for your child by far is to regularly remind them they are the most important person in your life with lots of hugs and kind words of love. You can never tell them you love them enough.
Children Need Love
All children need love and appreciation and thrive on positive attention. Consistently nurture their self-esteem by catching them doing things well and re-affirming their success. It can be something small like putting on their underpants the right way round or pouring their own drink without spilling. Go out of your way to find successes to congratulate them on. Reinforce their independence and their courage to try things on their own and when they make mistakes help them to laugh about it and encourage them to try again. Recognize efforts and improvements rather than waiting to praise completed tasks. Focus on children’s assets and strengths and encourage self-appreciation and positive self-talk. Be generous with praise. Parents must develop the habit of looking for situations in which children are doing good jobs, displaying talents, or demonstrating positive character traits. Remember to praise children for jobs well done and for effort. To help with building self-esteem you can spend lots of time with your children, especially in activities that she enjoys and is good at, and allow her to make her own decisions, so she can learn responsibility and can feel that you trust her.
Develop Self Confidence
Too often parents remind their children about their mistakes, accidents and the possible dangers thereby undermining their self-esteem. If your child is in a tree, rather than say ‘be careful, you might fall’, say ‘wow! You have great balance and if it doesn’t feel right you can come down’. This reaffirms their behaviour of discovery and adventure and reminds them that it’s okay to back down if they choose. By reaffirming their sense of adventure you give them the ability to stretch their horizons. You’ll also teach them to develop an optimistic approach to life. On the other hand, if you keep reminding them how dangerous it is and how careful they have to be, they develop a psychology based in safety and pessimism and this undermines their long-term success and prevents them from developing self-confidence. Teach children about decision making and to recognize when they have made good decisions. Let them “own” their problems. If they solve them, they gain confidence in themselves. If you solve them, they’ll remain dependent on you. Take the time to answer questions. Help children think of alternative options.
Avoid criticism that takes the form of ridicule or shame. Blame and negative judgments are at the core of poor self-esteem and can lead to emotional disorders. Also, do not always rush to rescue your child from frustrating experiences. Instead, try and help them to solve the problem themselves. Children will not develop a sense of ownership and responsibility if other people always decide what they will do and when and how they will do it. Real choices, appropriate to children’s ages, also permit them to experiment, make mistakes, and learn in non-threatening situations. The word ‘no’ seems to be the word used most with small children. What a lot of parents don’t realize is this could be setting the child up for a lifetime of mediocrity and unfounded fears. Give your children wings and help them to soar by proclaiming their brilliance, giving them freedom to make mistakes without judgment or ridicule and reminding them daily that they are indeed a genius with unlimited potential just waiting to be discovered and used. This will foster self-belief and a self-image of confidence and self-assuredness that will see them through the toughest challenges that life has to offer.