Self-esteem means feeling good about yourself. This is an essential building block to emotional development. Good self-esteem allows children to be open with others and to care about how they're feeling. It also encourages them to try new things and to handle difficult situations because it gives them confidence in themselves.
Parents have the ability to increase or decrease their child's self-esteem with their words and actions. Letting children know that they are loved and praising their accomplishments can go a long way in building their self-esteem. Try to make it a personal goal to say at least three supportive things to each of your children every day.
But encouraging self-esteem requires more than just praise. It also requires encouraging your child to cope with new or frustrating situations. You can help this along by:
- setting reasonable expectations for your child and allowing her to try things on her own;
- being there to help break down a task if it seems too challenging; and
- setting up situations in which you know your child has a chance of success.
Don't forget yourself in the self-esteem equation. It's easy for parents to fall into the "perfect parent" trap, criticizing themselves if they don't do it right 100 per cent of the time. Being a good parent can be a difficult, demanding task. On those days when the effort seems overwhelming, try to remember three things you did well that day. All of us, no matter what age, need positive feedback.