Every day, our children rely on us to help them interpret the world and the way it works. Often, the things we teach our children aren’t even things that we intend to teach them.
They hear us every time we speak. Even if we think they aren’t listening, they are. We teach them what is safe to touch, when to wash their hands, and when it is safe to cross the street. This isn’t even always things we say directly to them, it’s just something they hear.
What happens when they hear us say things like: “You’re so clumsy… You drive me nuts… You never remember… Why can’t you ever….”? Or when they overhear us say something like: “They have been so rotten all day… He’s not such a great student… He can’t control himself…”?
When they hear us say things like that, they start to believe it.
Instead of waiting for your children to develop their confidence and self-esteem on their own, here are a few things that you can do to help them today.
Help Your Child See Themselves
Your child’s belief will determine their behavior. So, when you see something positive about your child, tell them what it is. Let them know when you see them working hard on something, or when they worked out a difficult problem that was clearly frustrating them.
We all need help to keep working towards a goal. Make sure you comment on their progress.
And avoid saying things like “you’re so smart!” and “you’re the best at that!” because it can lead them to believe that they don’t have to try. Instead, focus on what they did. “I can see how hard you worked on that!” or “That’s very good, I like what you did there!”
Empower Them With Problem Solving
If you are trying to guide your child through a difficult problem, stick to what is happening right then and there and try to empower your child to solve it.
Avoid overly wide statements like “You always” and “You never” because that can program them to be that way. “You never remember to brush your teeth” just programs them to keep forgetting.
However, if you instead say something like “How do you think you can help yourself remember tomorrow?” gives them the tools they need to become the solution instead of the problem.
Focus on how they can improve and they will start to see themselves as a child who can continue to grow.
Keep Their Mistakes in Perspective
Kids form beliefs about the world from every experience they have. When things don’t work out well for them, they draw global conclusions like “I messed up on my math test, so I am a terrible student.”
Help your child see things differently. Make sure they understand that setbacks are temporary and they have control over how some things work out.
Try something like “I can see how upset you are about your math test. What can you do next week so you can improve your score?”
Give your child all the support they need in order to succeed. Show them that their actions have an impact on their success and help them try harder next time.
Let Them Overhear Your Praise
Your child might not hear it when you tell them, but when they overhear you say something to someone else, they will believe it. When they hear you on the phone talking about how difficult they have been to deal with that day, they hold that with them.
Change that narrative. Tell people how hard they are trying, how happy you are to be their parent, and how you can see the changes they have made.
Your child believes everything you say and will act on it.
How to Build Their Confidence and Self-Esteem
A positive self-image is one of the best gifts we can give our children. When children have high self-esteem, they feel loved and competent. We can talk all we want to our child, but it’s really our actions that impact their self-image as they grow. Here are some of the things you can do to help build your child’s confidence and self-esteem.
Give Them Choices
When you give your children reasonable options you can make them feel empowered. When they learn to make simple decisions, they can be better prepared for the more difficult decisions they face as they grow.
Let Them Do It Themselves
Instead of rushing to help your child through a difficult spot, take a step back and allow them to work out a problem on their own. It might be faster and easier for you to tie your child’s shoes, but letting them do it lets them develop that skill on their own.
The more challenges your child comes across, the more confident and competent they will feel.
No One is Perfect
Explain to your child that there isn’t a single person alive that is perfect and that no one expects them to be. If you react poorly to your child’s mistakes, they will as well. It’s easy to respond to everything with a knee-jerk negative reaction, but remember that your child is watching.
Kids are the best at finding insincere praise or baseless compliments. Don’t be afraid to praise your child when they deserve it. Just make sure that you’re specific so your words are meaningful.
Instead of reacting to every one of your child’s drawings with “Wow! You’re the best artist ever!” point out the specific parts that you liked the best.
Give Age-Appropriate House Chores
Give children responsibility for tasks that they can handle. For some children, this means setting the table or putting away their clothes. But as you add on tasks that they can do, it increases their confidence and improves their problem-solving skills.
Build Them Up, Don’t Tear Them Down
It is our responsibility to raise children with confidence and self-esteem. It is much easier to build a child up when they are young than to fix them when they are broken adults. Make solid efforts to treat them with the same thoughtfulness and respect that you would like others to treat you, and you’ll be raising confident little people with unshakeable self-esteem.
If you’re looking for more ways to make yourself and those around you feel good, visit our blog today!