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Healthy Kids: How to build your child’s self-esteem
As parents, we want our children to be confident. Kids who have a healthy amount of self-esteem believe in themselves; they take on challenges and are more likely to accomplish their goals.
Moms and dads play an important role in nurturing their children’s self-esteem, but we all have days where we inadvertently injure egos or simply miss an opportunity to give them a boost. If you want your teenager to be confident, these efforts must begin when children are young.
“Talking back and forth in an age-appropriate way and sharing your thoughts with your kids as they grow is important,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw with Eugene Pediatric Associates. “And then with teenagers, tell them your thoughts, listen carefully, and ask for their opinion.”
Parents can strengthen their children’s self-esteem every day, by complimenting them on a job well done, making them feel loved or disciplining them for breaking a rule.
Some tips for instilling self-esteem in your children include praising their efforts, not their accomplishments, and letting your children know you love them, even when they fail or makes bad decisions.
“Say, ‘I’m so proud of you for all the effort you put in to get that A.’ Don’t celebrate the A, celebrate the effort,” Dr. Bradshaw says.
And, if he or she is typically one to get great grades and they happen to bring home a D or an F, help your child build some resilience. “It’s important for kids to know that they can have a failure and that you still love them and that there’s a way out,” she says.
Criticize when necessary, but constructively. Focus your comments on your child’s behavior, not on them as a person.
“There have been many studies that show the No. 1 influence in a teen’s life is their parent’s opinion. Your words have power, and they have the power to really hurt,” Dr. Bradshaw says.
Be wary of how much time your child is spending on social media, because what others say can also have a big impact on your child’s self-esteem.
“The less time kids spend on their phones and the more time they spend engaged with your family or their friends, their church, youth groups or something volunteer-oriented, the happier those kids tend to be.”
Another great way to build your children’s self-esteem is to encourage them to explore their talents and interests. Everybody is good at something. Whether it’s music, art, sports or something else, being involved in an activity that they feel good about can help them develop strength and confidence.
“From the time kids are little, and especially when they become teenagers, it’s great for them to be involved in an activity they enjoy and do well at. I think it’s also important to have an interest outside of school that they’re proud of, in case school is rocky for them,” says Dr. Bradshaw.
For additional tips on boosting your child’s self-esteem, click here.