Building children’s self-esteem and confidence is something in which both parents and teachers have a vested interest. Sadly not every child develops with healthy self-confidence or strong self-esteem. The reasons for this may be many, but that is for another article. What will be covered here are some tips and strategies for building children’s self–esteem and confidence that should bring good results
It is never too late to start building children’s self-esteem and confidence. From the time they are infants and can make eye contact our children look to us for feedback. They smile at us and we smile back which gives them positive feedback. They role over and we are excited, so are they and on it goes. If we treat this gift we are given of having such impact on another human being’s life with respect, our child has the opportunity of growing into a confident child and than a teenager.
One of the best ways we can foster confidence and self-esteem in our children is by taking care of ourselves. Children will eventually mirror what they see. If we as parents are lacking in confidence or have poor self-esteem that will be the most influencing example a child will view. If our confidence and self-esteem is healthy that will favorably impact what our child learns.
Praising children is a wonderful way of helping them to gain confidence, but don’t make the mistake of underestimating your children. Kids know when they are being conned. If your praise is general and all encompassing it loses much of its influence and can even produce anxiety in the child on the receiving end of it. Praise should be based in reality, in that way it can actually aid in building children’s self esteem and confidence.
Try not to use phrases like “you always do such a great job" or “you’re always so neat". Children know that they are not always able to achieve this type of perfection and it can cause stress. If instead you get specific with your praise it will carry more weight. Phrases such as “I really liked the way you lined up all you stuffed animal when you were straightening your room" or “I noticed you were putting forth a lot of effort in your math homework" deal with specific situations and allow your child to understand exactly what the praise is about.
Sometimes parents believe that by constantly praising their children they are insuring that they will have a confident child with great self-esteem. What happens however is that they end up with a child who needs constant praise or is disappointed when the rest of the world does hold them in as high a regard. If instead the child is allowed to form a solid inner opinion of them selves based in reality, they have a far greater chance of developing healthy self-esteem and confidence that can withstand the bumps in the road we all inevitably face.
Children also need constructive criticism. Using always or never when giving such criticism does far more damage to budding confidence than we might want to believe.
The same way we keep our praise grounded in reality, we should also construct our criticism. Stay focused on the facts and use statements reflecting your thoughts and feelings. “I noticed that you have not cleaned your room and our family rules are that rooms are to be neat before we go outside to play. I would like you to please take care of that now" will go further in helping your child see unacceptable behavior than “you never clean your room when you’re told to".
When giving criticism to our children it should be about the behavior we are trying to correct and not about the child. A child who feels constantly attacked is not going to develop healthy self-esteem or self confidence. Also, when an occasion comes up that we need to issue constructive criticism, if at all possible take the child aside. This accomplishes two goals. One, the child is better able to accept the criticism if they are not dealing with being embarrassed and two, the child is receiving respect. This teaches the child a valuable lesson in showing respect to others.
Building children’s self-esteem and confidence is indeed a worthwhile endeavor as they are truly our future. If we invest wisely in our future it is sure to pay us great dividends.
Maureen Staiano is a Life Coach specializing in working with women and the unique challenges, opportunities and transitions we face in our lives. You can visit Maureen at: http://www.achieveyourdreamcoaching.com