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Self-esteem: How to build my child's self-esteem

In order to develop respect for themselves and for others, children need to learn that what they think, feel and do is important.

The best way to build your child's self-esteem is to make sure she knows that she is loved.

Part of making your child feel loved is providing him with positive feedback when he is learning new things. This will make your child feel even better about an accomplishment he may already be very proud of.

Encouraging self-esteem in your child requires more than just praising new skills. It also requires encouraging your child to cope with new or frustrating situations. You can help this along by doing what you can to keep her from being overwhelmed by situations you know she can't manage. But more than that, set up situations that you know she has a chance to succeed in.

One of the best ways to help your child learn to respect himself and others is to treat him with respect. Show respect by listening carefully and taking what he says seriously. If you disagree or dislike something your child is doing, talk about it using statements that start with "I feel" or "I believe" instead of statements that begin with "You are," which make you sound critical and judgmental.

Also, it's important that you only expect your child to be able to do what's appropriate for his age. Don't think that if you push your child enough he will become smarter - expecting perfection won't make you or your child feel good.

Children need to learn to feel good about their own strengths. But let your child know that feeling special does not mean feeling superior or being condescending to others. Teach your child and show her by your behaviour that everyone at times makes a mistake. If you've made a mistake, own up to it. If she's made a mistake, explain what the problem was, but don't make a big deal about it. That way, there's much less need to be defensive, and defensiveness usually makes problems worse and can end up in blaming and shaming situations. If you can avoid all that, your child's self-esteem won't be demolished if she does make a mistake, and this will protect the confidence she needs to be a successful person.

Unfortunately, we all have a tendency to pay more attention to what's wrong than to what's right. It's bad behaviour that prompts many of us to say angry or critical things to our child. Remember that a child does more good than bad in a day, and needs our encouragement and positive comments.

Try to make it a personal goal to say at least three positive things to each of your children, and even to your partner, every day.

Remember, all of us, at whatever age, need positive feedback from those we care about.

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