How does your child approach challenges? Do they try and keep going? Or do they give up and feel poorly about themselves? If the latter, your child may be experiencing low self-esteem. But thankfully, self-esteem grows when kids learn that who they are and what they do matters. And in this article, we’ll discuss how to boost self-esteem in kids by providing several tips to get their confidence back on track.
What Is ‘Self-Esteem’?
Self-esteem is simply how children view and value themselves, including their capabilities. And this self-perception is largely influenced by their teachers, peers, and caregivers. But it’s important to note that self-esteem does not mean arrogance. You can boost self-esteem while teaching them to be empathetic, polite, considerate, and appreciative.
Why Is Self-Esteem Important?
Healthy self-esteem is critical for your child’s development. And when their environment and caregivers foster self-love and independence, these efforts last well into adulthood. This means children will have the skills and capabilities to handle setbacks, failure, peer pressure, and life’s challenges. It will also protect their mental health and ability to bounce back.
10 Signs Your Child Has Low Self-Esteem
It’s always easy to tell when a kid feels good about themselves. They radiate those good vibes that make us laugh and smile. But knowing when they have low self-esteem can be a bit challenging. Here are a few common signs to observe:
- They compare themselves to others
- Speak poorly about themselves (“I’m not good at anything”)
- They don’t feel liked or accepted
- Focus more on their failures rather than their successes
- Give up easily when faced with challenges
- Blame other people and factors for their failures
- Overly concerned about others’ opinions of them
- Mood swings and appear sad, withdrawn, or angry
- Struggle to accept praise and feedback
- Downplay losing or missing out on activities (“It doesn’t matter”)
9 Ways to Boost Self-Esteem in Kids
1. Avoid criticism
You’re human, but you’re also a parent. This means you might lose your cool from time to time. But even if your child misbehaves, refrain from yelling and criticism. And as challenging as it may be, try to separate the behavior from your child. In other words, see them as children bound to make mistakes and calm your emotions before disciplining them. You can do this by practicing breathing exercises, seeing the misbehavior logically, and speaking to them kindly. It will do wonders for their self-esteem.
2. Empower their strengths
What does your child love to do? Painting, reading, gymnastics, writing stories? Whatever they enjoy, ensure they have multiple opportunities to develop and enhance these strengths. Doing so will provide protective factors against stress and will make them feel good about themselves, especially if you notice and encourage their interests.
3. Focus on growth mindset
We often place too much value on intelligence and talent rather than effort. And with children, if they’re told they’re gifted at art, for example, and fail this subject, they may question their abilities. However, if we teach children the importance of having a growth mindset and they learn effort is the key to success, they will grow up seeing failure as a learning opportunity. One way to do this is to teach your children about the positives of failure by using your past mistakes as a teaching moment. Tell them how grateful you are for these challenges because of the positives you gained.
4. Encourage independence
One of the best ways to boost self-esteem in kids is to step back and let them make choices. When they have agency over aspects of their life, they feel powerful and confident. So, rather than succumbing to the power struggle, EMPOWER. For example, start early and allow toddlers to choose their pajamas, nighttime activities, and healthy snacks. And as they get older, continue encouraging independence and decision-making.
5. Praise wisely
There is a fine line between praising too much and not praising enough. For example, if you over-praise, you subconsciously teach your kid they no longer need to push themselves. But from the growth mindset tip, we know confidence comes from failure and effort. So, if your child fails a test and they’re upset, acknowledge it. Instead of telling them how wonderful they did, which will feel shallow, say, “We all have off days, but you gave your best. And I’m proud of you for not giving up“.
6. Allow healthy risks
It can be tempting to want to rescue your child when you know they’re about to fail or make a mistake. But recusing hurts their self-esteem. Doing so prevents children from learning how to take risks and how to take responsibility for their choices. Therefore, stand back and observe while your kids take healthy risks. And when they fail, be there and encourage them to keep going.
7. Teach goal setting
Unfortunately, many fail to achieve their goals because they don’t learn efficient goal setting. But this is a habit you can cultivate in your kids. It will give them grit, confidence, and the tools to achieve what they want. One way to do this is to use the goal ladder. First, ask, “What is a big thing you want to achieve?” Then work with them by creating small goals to achieve the primary goal. They will learn goal setting is a series of small steps each day rather than an overnight win.
8. Let them help
When a child has age-appropriate chores and responsibilities, their self-esteem grows two-fold. First, having weekly tasks gives them a sense of purpose and opportunities for accomplishment. And secondly, kids receive agency and control in an otherwise unpredictable life. Yet even if they don’t do something how you expect or want, tell them you’re grateful for their efforts. This praise will aid their confidence and self-esteem.
9. Love wholeheartedly
Lastly, love your children wholeheartedly. Knowing they matter provides belonging, security, and a positive attachment that will allow them to form positive relationships, personally and professionally, later in life. So, tell your children how much you care, prioritize one-on-one time, and listen to them mindfully and compassionately. Every ounce of your love will boost their self-esteem.
Following this collection of tips to boost self-esteem in kids will help you build your children’s confidence now and in the future. But remember to give you and your children grace in the process. You’re both human, which means you will make mistakes. And that’s okay. Just focus on providing unconditional love for yourself and your children, and they will grow up to have a healthy self-esteem.
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