10 Self-Esteem Boosters for Your Child

10 Self-Esteem Boosters for Your Child

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Updated on Jul 26, 2010

Having a child who grows up with healthy self-esteem is not just “a happy accident”. Research shows that the important grown-ups in their lives have a huge impact on how kids feel about themselves. Here are ten self-esteem boosters from psychologist and expert Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.

1.) Let your kids know they’re the sun, moon, and stars to you.

In order for them to develop self-esteem as they’re making their way in the world, it’s essential that kids have grown-ups – at least one – who love them unconditionally.  Feeling “lovable” is the core of having self-esteem and the best way to feel lovable is to feel loved. As often as you can, tell your kids directly how dear they are to you. Take every chance you get to hug your children and let them know that you’re proud of them and love them. To develop healthy self-esteem, kids need to know they are treasured and that there is nothing they could ever do to make you stop loving them.

2.) “Catch them” being successful.

When you give positive, accurate feedback your child is likely to do more of the same. Look for opportunities to praise your children. Be very specific when praising kids and try to avoid “blanket praise”. Saying things like “I’m so proud of how hard you worked on this test. You’ve been doing all your homework and you studied really hard and you deserve to have gotten this great grade!” will do more for your child’s self esteem than saying “You’re so smart!” Excessively flattery can actually end up making kids feel pressured rather than confident.

3.) Criticize carefully.

Of course discipline is an important part of parenting, but when reprimanding children or applying consequences be sure they understand that you’re concerned or frustrated about their behavior, not who they are as a person. Never name-call, berate, belittle or compare one child to another. Let your child know exactly what was unacceptable or inappropriate about her behavior and why you feel that way.

4.) Accept that your child’s not perfect – and help her do the same.

While reinforcing your child’s positive traits is key to bolstering their self-esteem, it’s also important to help your child cope with their inevitable shortcomings. When kids identify things they “don’t like” about themselves, help them modify those negative thoughts by taking action or resetting their expectations. Kids who have body image issues may benefit from regular exercise with their family. They also need to know that they do not need to look like models in magazines.

Don’t ignore negative comments kids make about themselves. Talk through their feelings with them to help them get on a more positive path.  If a child says, "I can't do math. I'm a bad student," a helpful response might be: "You are a good student. Math is just a subject that you need to spend more time on. We'll work on it together."

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