building a child's self esteem

How to improve a child's self-esteem: Tips for parents

Part 4 of 4

Parents want to do what's right for their children, but sometimes they make mistakes. What can you do if you find yourself saying or doing terrible or nasty things to your child?

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Turn to someone. If you need answers to questions on child rearing, check the local paper to see if any parenting classes are being held, or talk to your religious leader or a friend. Hotlines also are available in many communities; check your telephone book for a phone number. Call Family Services.

All parents occasionally make mistakes. These can be minimized if you concentrate on creating a warm, friendly and supportive environment to help your child feel comfortable and at ease. Listen to your child when he wants to talk. Express your opinion, but don't turn every discussion into an argument. If you have a bad attitude or feeling about your child or his friends or other things that irk you, work on your own attitude. Children watch parents and pick up their attitudes.

Are you adding to your kid's low self-esteem? For example, a child who hears "You can't do that. Let me do it," may interpret it as "You're incapable." "Those freckles make you ugly," is "You're unattractive." "Just like your lazy Uncle Sam," is "Be lazy." "He's a real clown, but he's so cute," is "Be a clown."

Say good things about your child. For example, tell Grandmother that Tina fixes her own hair now. Brag to a co-worker that Tommy can ride his bike. Never mind that it takes Tina half an hour to fix her hair or that Tommy has training wheels on his bike. When a child hears good things, he gets encouragement to succeed.

If you work on getting rid of your negative attitudes, you will see how this change affects a child. Kids deal with pressures and hassles every day. They need parents and other adults to help them through difficult times. They also need adults who appreciate and understand them. They need people to stroke them and tell them they are okay. Do this and you are boosting your child's self-esteem.

Tips for parents

  • What kinds of activities are your children involved in? Help them select those in which there is a better-than-average chance of success.
  • Teach your children how to replace negative attitudes, feelings and habits with positive ones.
  • Encourage your children to develop a circle of friends where they can share ideas, feelings, solve conflicts and have a good time.
  • Keep your own negative feelings under control.
  • Help your children get organized for studying and playing.
  • Enroll your children in activities that they like or show talent.
  • Tell your children that you love them.
  • Say good things about your children.

Tips for identifying and improving your child's self-esteem

Indicates high self-esteem: Indicates low self-esteem: How to raise your child's self-esteem
in this area:
I like myself. I'm rotten. Help him find something he's good at.
It's okay to say "no." If I say "no," he'll be mad or he won't like me. Help him stand up for his own beliefs.
I'm okay. I'm not good in school so I'm no good. Point out that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Reassure him that you love him no matter what.
I have friends. Nobody likes me. Help him to be friendly and a friend.
Positive thoughts: awesome, alright, smart, cool Negative thoughts: uck, jerk, nerd; stupid Teach him that he's special just the way he is. Teach him to be assertive.
Positive feelings: fine, great, happy, good attitude. Negative feelings: wimp, klutz, anger, poor attitude Use role playing to work through bad feelings. Encourage him.
I did it! Yes, I can. It's not my fault. I can't do it. Tell him. "A little more effort next time and you'll be able to do it."
Says "Thank you." Says "Give me." Help him to appreciate thoughtfulness. Practice social skills.

BACK: « Improving self-esteem in school age children and teenagers | START: Building your child's self-esteem »

Source: Building Self-Esteem in Your Child, Cynthia E. Johnson, Former Extension Human Development Specialist, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Berne, Patricia. Building Self-Esteem in Children. NY: The Continuum Publishing Company, 1981.
Clarke, Jean I. Self-esteem: A Family Affair. Minneapolis: Winston Press, Inc., 1981.
Freed. A.M. T.A. for Tots (and Other Prinzes). Rolling Hills Estates: Jalmar Press, Inc., 1984.
Kramer, P. and L. Frazier, The Dynamics of Relationships: A Guide for Developing Self-Esteem and Social Skills for Preteens and Young People. Kensington. Md.: Equal Partners, 1990.
Stanford, Gene. Self-Esteem. NY: Globe Book Company, Inc., 1988.

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