Are you tearing your child’s self esteem to shreds?
We can tear their self esteem to shreds.
But we equally have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure we do our best to foster as strong a self belief in them as possible. As parents we all want our children to have happy lives. How many times have we heard, or said “I don’t care what they want to be as long as they are happy?” Strong self image and belief is one of the most important tools for ensuring a fulfilling and happy life as possible.
Abusing others and being abused or taken advantage by others is all behaviour of a person that is unhappy with themselves. Rearing children that are happy and comfortable in their own skins is a task (a pleasure) all parents need to embrace. It is all too easy to have preconceived ideas of what and how we want our children to be. Less shy or introverted for example. Good at sports or math or the piano. But forcing our prejudices onto our children only needs to feeling of sadness and guilt. The cornerstones of poor self esteem.
Steve Biddulph in his practical and humerous book The Secret of Happy Children: A guide for parents lets you into the mind of your child to show how the positive ways in which you relate to a child will have a strong effect on growing self esteem. I highly recommend the book if you would like some further reading on this subject.
Here are my 4 top strategies for fostering high self esteem in your children.
- Really listen to your children. Most of us parents jump very quickly to conclusions about what are children are telling us, or start forming the answer to a question before they have finished asking (apparently everybody does this!!) Or we react to how our children are saying something (will you stop whining!) rather than addressing what they are saying.
The takeaway here is to listen, really listen to what it is your children are saying. Often you will be surprised by what they say. Your attention also validates their ‘voice’. Validation is a key process in building self esteem.
2. Never criticise, mock or put your child’s behaviour down in public or in private. This is a hard one because this type of parenting behaviour usually is the result of exhaustion, anger or being just plain fed up. The key here is to think before speaking – count to 10 (0r 50) if it helps. Take the time to form a positive message to your child regarding their behaviour.
The key takeaway here is , children learn by example, so behave the way you want your children to behave. With kindness, politeness and with self respect and dignity.
3. Spend time and effort developing your child’s strength’s and less time battling their weaknesses. Encouraging your child to pursue and strengthen a talent or skill is easy. They enjoy it and it comes naturally. I’m not saying to ignore weaknesses but if you have a choice, choose to expel your energy on what your child is good at. They will have plenty of time when they are older to work on their weaknesses.
The key takeaway here is it creates so much positive energy when your child is working on something they are good at, in them and for you. It is an uphill battle and generates so much negative energy focussing on weaknesses.
4. Ensure they know that you will always be there for them. Having a strong support system is vital to ensure your child has the confidence to go out and embrace the world with positivity and enthusiasm.
Key takeaway here? LOVE your children and tell them EVERY day you love them.
Hug your children. Every day. And make one hug a really long one (20 seconds or more) as it releases lots of feel good chemicals like seratonin in you and them.
Have fun with your children. Put down the laptop and switch of the tv. Ask your child what they want to play. And play it. For at least 15 minutes. And make sure you enjoy it!!
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Don’t forget to enjoy your day.
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