We all want our children to grow up to be strong, independent adults ready to take on and conquer the world. Our children can be academically brilliant or struggle in school. They may be well-behaved role models or spunky, limit-pushing individuals.
However, if they do not possess a healthy level of self confidence and self-esteem, where they land on the Success-O-Meter is never going to matter.
Self-esteem gives a child the means to understand their identity, make choices and reach goals. Without a sense of self confidence, they will crumble under failure and remain stagnant under fear.
Some children will develop their confidence naturally while others will balk at societal pressures and opinions. Some may have it in them to rise above bullies and negative self-talk while some may closet their personal fears and hide their pain as their identity crumbles.
But the beautiful thing about the power of parenthood is we can help our children down the path of healthy self-esteem. Our actions can have a positive impact on how our children view themselves and the level of confidence they possess.
Give Them Choices and Responsibilities
I get it, I’m a parent. Sometimes it is so hard to resist tying their shoes for them (you love them so much you just want to help them out) or doing the dishes they were supposed to do (because it’s easier than nagging…and they don’t do them right anyway).
Sometimes I want to I lay out my daughter’s clothes for her because morning struggles.
But giving children choices and responsibilities is vital to developing a healthy self-esteem. This provides them the opportunity both to succeed and fail (which I’ll talk about later). It teaches them both positive and negative consequences. They get to experience the outcome of their choices or the fall-out if responsibilities are not met.
Begin today by assigning your little one age-appropriate chores or allowing them to make day-to-day decisions such as what to wear to school or what to pack for lunch.
Give Them Sincere Praise
I mean it – REAL PRAISE! Not just a quick “good job” here and there but actual, specific praise when they do something good. Praise them especially when they do something that defies your expectations such as actually putting their clothes in the hamper or actually putting on jeans in the morning without a fuss (this is a real struggle for us).
You don’t have to go overboard and congratulate them on every single moment of compliance. Stick to the moments of accomplishment.
Let Them Learn From Mistakes
It is so hard to watch our little ones fail. We want them to succeed and be awesome and sometimes we step in to ensure that they reach whatever goal they are striving for, whether it’s something as mundane as buttoning their pants or more significant like winning the science fair.
But we have to back off because if we don’t let our children experience failure then they will never experience challenge. We have to let them challenge themselves and make mistakes and fail. We also have to be there to encourage them to try again.
Imagine a child whose parents involve themselves to the point that the child succeeds and never fails. Their parents can’t be present all the time – how would that child feel if they failed? Could they tell their parents? Would they feel shame? You bet they would! They would lack the confidence to say: “Yes, I failed, but I can try again.”
Create Opportunities for Success
Before you think I’m flipping the script here and taking back all I just said about failure and mistakes – creating opportunities for success is different from removing opportunities for failure. By creating opportunities for success, you are focusing on your child’s strengths and giving them an opportunity to nurture and develop their interests and abilities.
If your child is musically inclined, get them into a music class. If they enjoy writing, get them a notebook and pens. Encourage them to partake in activities they are good at instead of always putting them in activities they need to improve upon.
A child is not going to have a healthy sense of self-esteem if they don’t know what feeling good about themselves feels like.