Developing your child’s self esteem

A child’s level of self-esteem can be a crucial factor in their success and happiness over their lifetime. Equipping your child with a healthy self-esteem is a valuable gift that should not be overlooked.

It is much easier for a child to develop a positive self-esteem right from infancy than for an adult to try to improve upon a negative self esteem.

So, how can we work towards developing our child’s positive self-esteem and healthy image of themselves?


Improve your own self-confidence

We have all seen our children mirroring us; we notice it with more obvious things such as copying what we say and what we do. However, children will also mirror the way we treat ourselves, and the way we feel about ourselves. We mustn’t think they are too young to notice because even very young children pick up on a lot more than we give them credit for.

So be kind to yourself, lead by example and show your child you can appreciate your positive qualities instead of being caught up with the negatives.


Respond sensitively to your child’s needs

If we don’t listen and respond in a positive manner to our child’s needs when they are small, why would they think we would respond positively when they are older and their problems may be more serious?

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they wont tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” (Catherine M Wallace)

Children who are responded to in a sensitive manner develop a sense that their feelings really matter. They know they are important because you take time to give credit to and address their feelings and emotions.


Play Together

It is a well-known fact that a child learns through play. Spending time playing with your child shows them that they are importantmothers-and-babies-share-cells-537x428 because they are worthy of your time.

It is often difficult for busy parents to simply sit and play with building blocks or toy cars, or read the same story for the 20th time in a row; but this is such valuable time and should be seen as an investment in your child’s self esteem. If you are happy to enjoy the activities your child chooses, then in their eyes their choice was the right one and they love to think that you enjoy doing the same things that they enjoy. It validates their interests and your child will see them as worthwhile.


Allow them to contribute towards family activities

In an age appropriate way, if your child feels that they are making real decisions about things that actually matter to them it will make your child feel important and worthwhile. They will feel that you really value their opinions and that they are positively contributing towards the organisation of whatever family activity is being planned.


Give your child responsibilities

From around the age of 2, children can begin to carry out simple jobs around the house. This will give them a sense of contributing and being useful. Most children will enjoy helping out with things like putting the food shopping away and sorting the laundry with you from age 2, up to making dinner one night a week for older kids.

It’s never too early to start to learn responsibility for themselves, for their family, and for their possessions.


Encourage your child to express their feelings

Children who know how to express how they are feeling in ways that are socially appropriate are less likely to have problems with their behaviour. If they know how to tell you they are angry, they are less likely to have a tantrum.

They are also more likely to feel ‘heard’ by you. If they can express their feelings in an appropriate manner, you are more likely to listen and in turn they will feel successful that they can communicate effectively with you.

Always try to name feelings when they arise. “I can see you are feeling cross right now” gives your child a label for that feeling next time they feel it. Then instead of having a tantrum, they will be able to tell you they are feeling ‘cross’ and you can find a way to deal with that feeling in a calm way.

When you do witness your child verbalising their feelings, praise their efforts for doing so.

Also, ensure you model appropriate behaviours by not having an angry outburst yourself in front of your child. Remember they are always watching and take in more than you realise.


Encourage them to accept mistakes and failure

self-confidenceMistakes are part of life and everyone makes them. What is important is the way in which we learn to deal with them. Can we accept that we have made a mistake, resolve to try not to repeat it again in future, and move on? Or do we linger over the mistake, putting ourselves down for being so stupid, and ultimately cause ourselves a great deal of stress?

Encouraging your child to deal with making mistakes in a healthy way by talking it through with them and coming to a positive outcome will help them not to dwell too long on negative thoughts and promote confidence in themselves.

Similarly, failures can be managed in a way which encourages them to look positively on a situation.

“It’s a shame you didn’t make the football team this time but I know you put so much effort in and I’m so proud of you for trying so hard.”

The emphasis here is on the work put in instead of the outcome, which is always a good point of praise for your child. They can control how much effort they put in to something but can rarely control an outcome so praising them solely for an outcome every time can be detrimental to their sense of control.







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