Raising a Child with Healthy Self-Esteem
Ask any parent about their most important wishes for their child’s future, and you’re likely to hear that they just want the child to be happy. We all want our children to become happy, healthy adults. When you’re in the thick of parenting, this can feel like a difficult task.
Part of raising children into happy adults is nurturing their self-image and self-esteem. Once again, this is easier said than done. Parents are up against bullies, media images, and more when it comes to a child’s self-esteem. While nothing can make your child see themselves through your eyes, these tips can help your kid grow into a self-assured adult.
Cultivate Health Self-Esteem in Yourself
Experts in child self-esteem say that the single most important factor in the development of a child’s self-esteem is their parents’ self-esteem. In fact, some researchers assert that a parent’s low self-esteem can override all other attempts to help the child have positive self-esteem.
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If you feel bad about yourself right now, don’t fret. It’s never too late to learn to hold yourself in high regard. If you need to raise your self-esteem, try some of these proven tips:
- Practice mindfulness…the key word is “practice”
- Notice negative thoughts about yourself and turn them around
- Repeat positive phrases, called affirmations, about yourself
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- Identify your strengths and use them regularly
- Get regular exercise
- See a therapist to help work through the hardest problems
- Volunteer and help others when you can
- Forgive people who hurt you in the past, including yourself
- Every day write down three things you love about yourself
- Remember this important fact: you are not defined by your circumstances
These are just some ways that you can learn to love yourself. Even before you reach your self-esteem goals, your child will notice your new behaviors and mimic them.
Be Honest About Struggles
While it’s important to show your child what great self-esteem looks like, don’t fake it. Kids need to know that it’s ok to struggle in life sometimes, and that struggling doesn’t make them weak. By being open and honest about who you are, you give your children permission to do the same, which is the hallmark of healthy self-esteem.
Similarly, be sure to be open and honest about any problems that run in the family. For example, if a hereditary mental health issue is in their family history, your children should know about it when they are old enough. This way, if they start to experience symptoms of mental health conditions, they know that they are not alone.
Teach Healthy Coping Skills
In pursuit of raising self-assured children, many parents try to make their children’s lives as easy and conflict-free as possible. While you don’t want to pile on unnecessary problems, don’t teach your child to avoid conflict and discomfort. Instead, teach them to work through these things.
When children have not learned healthy, effective coping mechanisms, they may feel like failures when problems eventually arise. On one hand, they may feel unequipped to deal with the issues in front of them. On the other hand, they may turn inward with their pain, leading to low self-esteem and depression.
Focus on the Process, Not Results
Children (and adults for that matter) do not need an endless string of successes in order to feel good about themselves. Instead, they need to try new things, take calculated risks, and feel secure even if they fail to meet their goals.
Encourage your children to try new things and compliment them on their efforts, rather than the result of their efforts.
Accept Them for Who They Are
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth emphasis. Each child is unique and should be accepted in the family for who they are. True acceptance doesn’t mean solely focusing on their great attributes, although you should absolutely do that too. It means being unabashedly open about who your child is in every facet of their being.
This means accepting their strengths and weaknesses too. Maybe your child struggles with math and excels in English. Both are fine to talk about in a positive way. You can say things like, “I see you trying hard with math. I know it’s especially difficult for you, and I’m proud of you for trying.” It’s just as important as praising them for their grades in English.
Trust Yourself and Your Child
Finally, learn to trust yourself and your child. You are the best parent for your child. Your child is even smarter and stronger than you know. Together, you will figure it out.