A child's happiness starts with a firm foundation of love, security, and self-esteem. This article has some thoughts from childcare experts that will put you on the right track as your child grows.
Set aside special time.
Every child should feel special and appreciated. This helps with their self-image, confidence, and resiliency. Set aside special times during the week to be alone with your child and focus on activities the child enjoys, allowing them to display their strengths.
Help your child develop problem-solving skills.
Self-esteem goes hand-in-hand with a child's ability to solve big problems. Get in the habit of discussing day-to-day problems that your child may encounter. If the solution is obvious, let them think about a couple of ways to solve the issue. Have patience, and don't worry if they don't come up with reasonable solutions.
Avoid judgmental comments and try to put feedback in a positive light. For example, if your child is having trouble mastering something, a statement like, "You'll just have to try harder and put in more effort," assumes they aren't trying and that something is wrong with them. Children are less defensive when they feel others share the problem.
Let your child develop the habit of making decisions that affect them. For example, ask if they would like to be reminded 10 or 15 minutes before bedtime to start getting ready or if they want to wear a red or green sweater. These early, simple choices help build the foundation for future responsibility and self-destiny.
Avoid comparing your child to other children, especially siblings. Unfavorable comparisons damage self-esteem, while overly positive ones can distort your child's perceptions of others.
Highlight your child's strengths.
Children sometimes view themselves negatively, especially regarding learning, abilities, and accomplishments. But every child has one or more areas in which they shine (either through knowledge or pure enjoyment). Make a list of your child's strengths and talents and find ways to reinforce them. For example, if your child is a talented artist, display their latest painting where they and others can see it.
Allow your child to contribute.
Children, by nature, want to help and be involved. Seeing that help is appreciated by others is a significant boost to self-esteem. Providing opportunities for children to contribute to family activities, a parent's hobby, or other activities are concrete ways of acknowledging that they have something to offer. Put aside or even create tasks that your child can help out with.
Set realistic expectations and goals.
Having realistic, achievable expectations allows your child to experience success as they reach goals. This gives a sense of control over life. With this comes confidence and self-esteem.
Praise and support your child.
Praise teaches your child your beliefs and attitudes and establishes expectations. If you don't compliment them, it suggests you don't have faith in them. Setting realistic expectations for your child with phrases like "clever," "creative," "kind," and "sensitive" is an excellent way to reward them. Words like "perfect," "the best," "most beautiful," and "brilliant" set high standards and put pressure on children.
Never shield or protect your child from reality. A youngster must grow up with sensitivity and a "toughness." Excessive protection promotes dependence. Your child will develop the ability to bounce back from setbacks and the resilience necessary to overcome challenges.
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