By Stephanie Camins – MA, LPC
Take Action to Improve Your Child’s Self Esteem
Your child’s self esteem can have a big impact on how your child shows up in the world. Parents can help foster a healthy sense of self-esteem in children by conveying love, care, and support.
If you’re curious as to how to improve your child’s self-esteem, here are some ideas to put into action:
- Praise your child
- Set realistic goals
- Play with your child
- Acknowledge a positive thing your child has done to/for another person when your child is listening
- Write an encouraging message to your child
- Spend 10 minutes before bed checking in about your child’s day
- Be involved with school projects
- Be consistent
- Be responsive
- Give age appropriate responsibilities
- Have a sense of humor
- Encourage problem solving
- Involve children in a variety of activities
- Teach optimism, be positive
- Give simple, clear directions
- Use reflective listening
- Be a good role model for behavior you’d like to see
- Take your child’s ideas seriously
- Have reasonable expectations
- Be available
- Hugs, hugs, hugs
- Accept your child’s feelings
- Be aware of their goals
- Be creative together
- Let children make choices
Taking Time to Be Together for Play and Fun
- Take a walk with a child, daytime or nighttime.
- Play golf or go fishing with a child.
- Take one child to lunch or dinner or to a weekend breakfast.
- Leave extra, padded time each night to tuck them in, be together and talk.
- Schedule time with each of your children each week.
- Read a longer ‘chapter’ book with your school-age child.
- Play basketball together (no coaching), throw a ball back and forth.
- Plant something together.
- Cook or bake together.
- Make something (craft, sewing, hobby) together. Remember whose project it is.
- Play cards, checkers, board games.
- Create and build traditions- holiday, weekly, personal, bedtime, weekend.
- Let children make choices. “Would you like the red or the blue cup?”
- Let children lead: Set aside playtime with your child, and let him/her lead the way. Use this time to play without questioning, directing or teaching.
- Show respect for a child’s struggle without jumping to the rescue- return responsibility back to the child. Encourage problem solving. “Getting dressed can be hard work. Where are you going to start?”
- Avoid asking questions. Instead, reflect what you see and hear. Make welcoming statements. “You’re back before I expected you.” “Looks like you’re having trouble deciding what to do.” “Good to see you!”
- Encourage children to use sources of support outside the home. “Maybe the pet shop owner would have a suggestion.”
- Don’t take away hope. “So you’re thinking of trying out for the talent show- that should be quite an experience!”
- Notice your child’s accomplishments; avoid evaluating or judging them. In this way, your child will learn to value/respect himself. “You used a lot of green and purple in this picture.” “You are working so hard to get that exactly like you want it.” “You remembered to brush your teeth all by yourself!”
Adapted from: Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish: HOW TO TALK SO KIDS WILL LISTEN AND LISTEN SO KIDS WILL TALK. Gary Landreth: PLAY THERAPY: THE ART OF THE RELATIONSHIP
Improving Communication With Your Child
As parents, one of the hardest things to do is to watch or listen to your child struggle with difficult emotions. Parents usually try whatever it takes to make those negative feelings go away. However, children need to have their feelings accepted and respected just as adults do. Helping children deal with their feelings by not jumping in to the rescue can deescalate the situation, feel validating to the child, and improve your relationship with your child by opening doors to more communication. Try the following:
- Just LISTEN quietly and attentively.
- Acknowledge their feelings with a word: “Oh..Mmmm..I see…..”
- Give the feeling a name: “That sounds really frustrating!”
- Give the child his/her wishes in fantasy: “I wish I could make it stop raining for you right now!!”
All feelings can be accepted. Your words do not have to say, “I agree.” They do need to communicate, “I understand, I am here.”
Adapted from: Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish HOW TO TALK SO KIDS WILL LISTEN AND LISTEN SO KIDS WILL TALK