There are probably 70 ways to boost children’s self-esteem, but I’ve narrowed it down to 7:
- Spend time with your kids. Kids don’t really care as much about quality time as just plain old time. They want to be around you, they feel safe around you, they feel good about themselves around you.
- Enjoy their company. Find some common interests to share. When my kids were toddlers they loved seeing mom trying to roll down hills, do somersaults, etc. with great difficulty. They’d wallow in showing clumsy mom how great they were at tumbling around.
- No insincere praise. (“Stop Praising your Kids for Everything”) Kids are great crap detectors. They know when they’re great at something and when they’re not. If you praise them for picking their nose they’re not going to believe you when you’re praising them for a real accomplishment. Actually I’m kinda guilty of this with my 27 year old son as I don’t see him nearly as much as I’d like to. He walks the room and I become this pathetically over indulgent mother. He hates being fussed over and says, “Get a grip Mom, all I did was blink and you’re acting as if I cured cancer!”
- Give them chores and responsibilities. You have to give children something to be proud of, something to make them learn about self-discipline.
- Give them choices. My Mom was the queen of this. She never told me what to do, it was always about giving me choices. Of course that’s exactly what I did with my kids as it makes them self-disciplining plus gives them a huge sense of confidence and pride. You are the master of the choices though. “You can eat all your vegetables and watch TV or not eat your vegetables and not watch TV … your choice.” I never questioned this, nor did my kids. We all just grew up understanding that we were responsible for how our lives went.
- Praise them just as much for trying and failing as succeeding. There is no shame in losing, just in not trying. Make your kids try everything and praise them for being outgoing, adventuresome and open minded. Poor sports are built on a base of thinking that success is everything.
- Teach them that no one’s perfect. Perfection is impossible and those who strive to appear perfect are boring. Teach your children to be confident enough to be comfortable with their imperfections.
Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach