5 Quick Tips to Build Positive Self Esteem in Your Child
By Shannon Essex, LAPC
- Encourage rather than praise – Parents need to allow their children to focus internally on his/her own feelings and conclusions about their efforts and self rather than to be dependent on external sources. Tip: Reflect your child’s effort and his/her emotions you observed rather than your own personal feelings and or the product. Instead of “I am so proud of you for making an A” (reflecting the product and your own personal emotions), reflect the effort and your child’s emotion “You worked really hard to get an A and I can tell by your excitement and smile that you are very proud of what you were able to accomplish.”
- Bring awareness – Notice your child – Parents often bring awareness to situations that are negative to enforce consequences and to help teach their children right from wrong, often forgetting to notice when they do something right. Tip: Let your child know when you have notice something positive that they did on their own. “I noticed that you got ready for bed without being asked, that was a really mature thing to do.”
- Validate – Children often have a very difficult time expressing themselves verbally and therefore communicate their emotions in their behaviors. Tip: If you notice your child is upset, validate them and put into words what they might not be able to on his/her own. “I understand that you are upset” or “I can see that you are upset, sometimes growing up can be hard.”
- Confront and challenge negative self talk – Low self esteem is strongly reinforced by negative self statements (often referred to as “Stinking Thinking”). Tip: If you hear your child make a negative statement about his/her perception of self, challenge them to change it to a positive. If they state “I am not good anything”, have them immediately change the statement to identifying something that they “are good at”. Shift their negative thought process to positive thinking.
- Tend to your own self esteem – Children learn by observation, imitation and modeling, therefore they are looking at you. If you have a negative perception of yourself, you are modeling for your children how to perceive their own self. Tip: Love yourself. Say out loud things that you like about yourself, encourage yourself, and model how to appreciate both strengths and weakness you may possess.