Children with healthy self-esteems try hard in school, get along well with others, hold a “can-do" attitude about life, and feel positive about their environment. They can accept ups and downs graciously. The opposite is true of children who suffer from low self-esteems. These children compare themselves to others and never feel they have done well enough. They are frustrated easily and fear risk and challenge. Children with low self-esteems can easily fall prey to peer pressure, eating disorders, and other dangers.
You can help a child who has a low self-esteem by examining the reasons behind it. You can also encourage the continuity of those children who have healthy self-esteems. By using a positive, can-do attitude in your home, you will pass that attitude on to your child. Try the following ideas to encourage a positive self-esteem.
EXAMINE YOURSELF AND YOUR ATTITUDE Children learn by example. If you hold a high self-esteem and think positively, odds are your child will to. If you suffer from a low self-esteem you will need to examine your current patterns of thinking and work on changing them.
SEEK OUT THE POSITIVE This does not mean you need to be a Pollyanna but you should search for the positive side of things. When your child comes to you with a problem, ask questions and pursue the positive side. The same goes for how you act in your own endeavors. When things go wrong, look for the up side.
RELATE TO YOUR CHILD Parent's often will sit and tell the humorous stories of their past. There is probably much more your child would like to hear. When your child comes to you with a dilemma, share your own experience. Even though you may be years apart your child may find relief that you have had times of self-doubt and concern.
WHY ASK WHY? If your child uses statements like “I can't" or other statements that show he is frustrated or giving up, ask “Why can't you?" Asking these questions may frustrate your child and you may here answers like “I don't know. . . I just can't!" Try bringing the subject up later when the intensity of the situation has lessened. Then ask “Earlier today you said you could not solve that puzzle, why don't you think you could solve it?" By exploring reasons together you may find the source of a low self-esteem.
IDENTIFY STRENGTHS Another way to increase self-esteem is to emphasize a child's strong points. If he is good in art but doesn't do well in sports-work with him and praise him on his art. By developing a feeling of confidence in one area, that confidence may spread into another area of a child's life.
PRAISE AND ENCOURAGEMENT Praise and encouragement are essential vitamins for a child. Encourage all children and praise them for situations where they put their “all" into it, no matter what the result. Filling your vocabulary with positive statements and providing a positive environment is a big step in helping your child build a healthy self-esteem.
Brook Noel is a bestselling author and has written Back to Basics: 101 Ideas for Strengthening Our Children and Our Families; The Single Parent Resource; Grief Steps; and The Change Your Life Challenge. To sign up for her free newsletters, please visit http://www.changeyourlifechallenge.com/news.htm