Parenting is a role filled with worrying; worries about finances, schooling, potential dangers our children face, and illness generally top the list. One concern plaguing many parents is ensuring that their child is confident and develops high self-esteem so they can always reach for the best and achieve all that they deserve. While many parents are prone to hand out compliments like they’re candy, there are actually much better ways you can help your child become a confident, well-rounded person who is competent and secure in themselves.
Recognizing Low Self-Esteem in Your Child
It’s important to take the time to look for signs of low self-esteem in your child. If they’re constantly avoiding trying new things, speaking negatively about themselves, and isolating from others they may be suffering from a lack of confidence. They may also become frustrated easily, and give up on certain tasks with little effort. This can result in mental health difficulties down the road, and cause difficulty with social interactions both in the short and long term. You may see them avoiding interactions with other children which could be an indication that something is wrong.
Don’t Overload with Praise
You might think you’re doing your child’s self-esteem a major favor by heaping on piles of praise, but this can actually result in the opposite. Your child needs to learn to be competent and to try and better themselves in everything they do, but consistently praising their efforts can see your child forgoing this extra effort. This lowers the bar at which they perform, whether that be in school, sports, or other extracurricular activities. It’s important to love and care for your child, and give praise when it’s due, but over-complimenting your child can make those positive comments less powerful. By praising them for laziness or inaccuracy, we may promote laziness and confusion. When you do compliment your child, make sure you’re specific about what they excelled at. Generic compliments like “good job” aren’t helping point out their achievements, and can lose effect as they’re often too general to really make an impact.
Allow Your Child Autonomy
Giving your child the opportunity to make their own decisions and take their own risks allows them a sense of control, and leads to a feeling of empowerment. This can help your child learn the consequences of their decisions, both good and bad, and gives them a small sense of responsibility that can lead to confidence and competency. As they get older and hit their preteen and teen years, you’ll find a lot of resistance and pushback to rules, and as long as your children are taking healthy risks, allow them a bit of autonomy to avoid further rebellion.
Get Them the Assistance They Need
If your child is struggling in a certain subject in school, don’t leave it to chance that everything will magically click somewhere dow n the road. Part of improving your child’s self-esteem is ensuring they continue to improve, so it’s important to help them access the support they need. Whether that’s affordable online tutoring or extension classes in the summer months, your child will truly benefit from a bit of extra attention. When they finally do achieve at a subject they previously struggled with, their confidence will skyrocket, and teach them to stay determined in even the toughest times in life.
Another thing that I have found especially helpful for children with low self-esteem is to get them involved with sports. I know what you’re thinking, sports usually hurts people’s self-esteem. Afterall, who likes being picked last for a team or getting yelled at by their coach? But the truth is, when you find the right sport for your child and the right coach. It can help tremendously. Team sports like soccer, ballet, basketball, etc can be great for your child to make new friends and feel confident in their abilities. If your child is more reclusive then individual sports like gymnastics, tumbling or tennis may be a better fit for them. Either way, when they find a sport they’re good at they’ll feel more confident in themselves and you’ll see their confidence begin to increase.
As our children get older, physical appearance becomes much more important. From clothes to skin care, our kids place a lot of emphasis into their looks, and as much as we know our children are beautiful, they can have a harder time believing it. If your child is worried about weight, be sure to provide healthy foods for them to choose from, and encourage activity in sports or daily workouts. websites like FarmFreshtoYou.com or Amazon Fresh great ways for busy families to have healthy food without having to visit the grocery store all the time.
When your child starts shopping for their own clothes, don’t be surprised when they choose outfits much different than you would have chosen. So long as their clothes follow school rules and don’t pose a risk, giving them the opportunity to dress as they like will help with self-expression. Another issue that plagues teens is acne. Unfortunately, puberty results in a deal of pimples that can result in painful lesions that are embarrassing for your child. Teach them the importance of hygiene, and invest in skin care options and teen acne treatments that help them deal with breakouts.
Helping your child bolster their self-esteem is about providing constant support and care, and learning when to let go and when to stay strong in your parenting convictions. Keep these strategies in mind and help your child develop a healthy sense of self.
About the Author:
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. He specializes in helping couples overcome stale relationships and overcome sexual difficulties and infidelity.