Nurturing Your Child’s Self Esteem

In recent years the words “self confidence” and “self esteem” and “self belief” seem to have become very fashionable and “buzz” words and as parents we are forever being told about how we must nurture and not harm our child’s self esteem but how do we go about it?

Self-esteem is how you rate yourself deep down. It is a belief and a confidence in your own ability and value.  It is not the same as arrogance and a sense of superiority but a gentle knowing that:

  • You like yourself.
  • You think you’re a good human being.
  • You deserve love.
  • You deserve happiness.
  • You feel deep down in your inner knowing that you are an OK person.

But where does that ability come from?

I believe it initially comes from you – your child’s parent as you are the first role models for your child and you play a major part in developing, nurturing and building your child’s confidence, their self esteem and in the long term their self belief.

Did you know on average, we have 90,000 thoughts a day and 60,000 of those are repetitively negative?

So I think it’s important to teach your child how to think positively about themselves and the first place to start is by looking at your own confidence, mindset and attitude to life.

Notice how you view the world because your child will be picking up and copying your attitudes unconsciously.

How confident and positive do you feel on the inside on a scale of 1-10 (10 being really confident and 1 being really unconfident) because you will be passing that mindset and attitude consciously and unconsciously on to your child as kids pick up on your vibes?

What can you do to improve your own confidence? Read an uplifting book, take a course or develop a new hobby or skill?

Just start this week to notice the language you use in different everyday situations. Are you upbeat and enthusiastic or constantly negative and blaming everyone else around you?

If you don’t like what you discover, don’t beat yourself up, just make a small conscious decision to change the words you use, your tone of voice or your body language and start to build up and develop your own positive attitude first.

What you do, say and how you act really matter

A useful attitude to adopt as a parent is one of “awareness parenting” where you are being constantly mindful of the bigger picture and the destination of your parenting. Holding the vision of where you are trying to get to together all the time and nurturing the bigger picture of raising happy, confident, well-balanced adults -today’s children but tomorrow’s future!

By being “aware,” you react with intention, rather than by chance.

So many parents are simply reactive and unaware of the impact that their words and actions have on their children. Children are sensitive and fragile and pick up very easily on the unkind or unsaid word and by the way you behave around them.

Keeping the bigger picture doesn’t always come naturally to many parents and by thinking about what you’re doing doesn’t take away all the fun and spontaneity from your parenting- it just changes your perspective. If you are a thoughtful parent, you are nurturing self-esteem all the time and influencing how your child views themselves for the rest of their lives.

I think a great question to ask yourself quickly in any situation is: “Is this bringing me closer to or further away from the relationship I want with my child?”

I always think keeping a sense of humour is enormously valuable too as it diffuses tension, lifts your mood and widens everyone’s perspective. So relax and see your parenting as an adventure and enjoy the ride remembering that a smile is a curve that puts a lot of things straight!

Help your child feel special and appreciated.

One of the main factors that contribute to your child becoming resilient and confident is by you focusing your energy on your child’s strengths and not constantly picking up on their weaknesses.

So be specific in your praise and constantly be on the look out for things your child does well and tell them!

Help your child to develop their problem-solving and  decision-making skills.

High self esteem is associated with solid problem-solving skills so encourage your child to “struggle” with their laces for a little bit longer, with doing up their coat buttons or finishing that course work.  This builds up persistence and tenacity and your kids will learn to develop a wonderful sense of personal achievement which is an essential ingredient for developing their own self esteem.

Avoid comments that are judgmental and instead, frame them in more positive terms.

One simple exercise I do with the parents I coach is to get them to stand on a piece of paper marked  “My child’s point of view” as this helps them view the world from the perspective of their child’s shoes and socks and it can be really illuminating!

Get a piece of paper and write on it and try the exercise. Imagine the world from your child’s point of view – what do they see, what do they hear, and how do they feel?

If you discover something you are not happy with commit to making one small change this week and stick to it. This will build up your confidence and make a big difference to your child too.

Provide choices for your child.

Providing small choices between two things really helps your child develop a sense of control over their lives and builds their self confidence and independence. This will also minimise power struggles and tantrums from are toddler or teen!

For example, ask your child if they would like to wear their green jumper or their blue jumper for today – or whether they would like to do their homework before or after they tidy their room.  You still maintain control by making sure they are wearing a jumper or getting their homework done, but they feel they have made the choice and feel more independent.

This helps to set the foundation of feeling in control of their lives which is also great for their self reliance.

Highlight your child’s strengths.

Make a note of your child’s talents and skills or “islands of competence” and select one of these islands regularly, finding ways of reinforcing, displaying and celebrating them. For example, if your child is a wonderful artist, display their artwork in the kitchen and change the pictures regularly. If they win “Player of the Week” put their certificate up in the kitchen to celebrate with them.

Have expanding expectations and goals for your child.

Always encourage your child to “have a go” at new things and explore their potential. This allows your child to expand how they see themselves and gain confidence and excitement from discovering what they are able to achieve if they try new things.

Don’t limit or put a ceiling on what you think your child can achieve as they may feel that they can’t ever achieve something above your expectations of them. Just be mindful of their age, skills and dexterity and let them explore their own potential.

Treating your child with respect.

Respect is the key energy of a successful and happy family, as it brings everyone together.  It creates a strong family unit that can handle whatever challenges are thrown at it like divorce, bereavement, redundancy or any of life’s ups and downs.

Your relationship with your child is the foundation of their relationship with others. So if you are being a respectful, positive and confident role model your child will respect you and learn to respect others and most importantly will learn to love and respect themselves – the key cornerstone in self esteem, self belief and self confidence.

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How to give your kids the gift of self-esteem by clicking here

About the author

Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the  famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.

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Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert
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