Boosting your child's self-esteem


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

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IN an increasingly competitive world, most parents cringe at the thought of having a child who lacks the basic confidence to navigate this space. Fortunately, we don't have to leave this up to chance. Clinical psychologist Dr Pearnel Bell said that you can gift your child a positive sense of self by providing a positive, protective and nurturing environment for them.

“Having self-worth is one of the most important qualities that you should work with your children to achieve. Life requires a self-assured individual to deal with all the obstacles, and the fact is, as parents you will not always be around to figure things out for them, so it is best for us to explore arming our children with the right skill set,” Dr Bell said.

Unsure how to go about raising a confident child with a positive self-image? Dr Bell shares some tips:

Teach your child positive self-talk

Develop a habit of going in front of the mirror with your child and speak positive words over the life of your child and encourage him/her to do the same. For example, while you comb his/her hair in the mornings or even as you get dressed together, say and encourage him/her to own certain qualities. For example, I am beautiful, I am strong, I have a purpose, I am smart, etc.

Allow them to take the lead

Play with your child and when you do, allow him/her to take the lead. So, instead of issuing the cards or giving a spiel on the rules of the game, allow your child to take charge of this. You can also let him/her take the lead in explaining new things both of you learned to friends and family. This, according to Dr Bell, will not only illustrate your own confidence in them but help them to exude this in other areas of their lives.

Assign age-appropriate chores to your child

Giving your child age-appropriate chores sends a message to your child that you have given him/her responsibilities because you believe that he/she is capable of doing a good job. So, for example, you will ask them to keep their areas tidy, you can even teach them to do small things such as folding socks or taking care of the family pet. In addition to becoming adept at taking charge of important tasks, these responsibilities will encourage them to develop problem-solving skills.

Help your child to be the best version of him/herself

Many parents make a habit of comparing their kids to their siblings as well as the children of friends and family, but this can be quite damaging to your child's self-esteem. Dr Bell said that no two children are the same and as such, you should find out what your child likes and help them to develop these skills and talents. As for areas that they are not particularly good at, get someone to assist them as best as possible.

Stop trying to live vicariously through your children

Sadly, many times parents become so obsessed with an idea of what they want their child to be like, or to become that they don't realise they are not only bombarding their child with things that he/she might have very little or no interest at all in. Your child might not want to disappoint you and as such, may continue suppressing his/her own dreams to live yours. “This is very unhealthy. Children, instead of developing confidence and having positive thoughts about their lives and futures, will instead develop feelings of resentment, frustration and even anger,” Dr Bell advised.

Let them know that as human beings, we all err

Children draw a lot from the way parents react to their less than glorious performances as well as their mistakes. It is important that you let them know that you don't expect them to be perfect because no one is. Let them be proud of what they can do and help them to get better at it; they should understand that all you want from them is their best at all times.

“It is important that your child understands that you expect the best of them, but don't cause them to become afraid of you because of a slip-up or two. Even as adults, we fail at times, so it is important that we don't give them false expectations; failing to attain perfection, which in some instances doesn't even exist, can do significant damage to your child's self-esteem,” Dr Bell advised.

Praise your child, but don't overpraise

It is important that when your child does something, even if it is not close to how it should be done, that you acknowledge his or her effort. So, for example, say: “Good first attempt, as you become more familiar with the technique you will do much better”, as opposed to “Wow! This is perfect. I almost didn't believe this is your first go at it.” This is important because they understand that you appreciate the effort that he/she made and will want to learn and practise more, but if you say it's perfect when they know it is not, it might cause them to feel undeserving of the praise.

They may think you are just saying it because you are their mom or dad and may even not totally believe you when you praise them in future, even when they did a great job. Other children might also feel that if their first attempt was good enough then they don't need to push harder, and what you have successfully done in this instance is lower the bar for your child.

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