By: Trevor McDonald Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
Self-esteem and a sense of self-worth are two of the greatest gifts you can give your child.
Too often, we as parents unknowingly pass down bad habits and negative self-talk to our children. In fact, it’s so easy for them to pick up our poor self-esteem that it’s wise to make a conscious effort to build theirs.
Poor self-esteem can cause more than just bad feelings. Studies have shown that low self-esteem can lead to substance abuse or alcoholism. So, this is an important quality to instill upon your child.
Here are a few things you can do to boost your child’s self-esteem:
Assign and stick to a chore schedule — When you give children chores, it increases their feelings of accomplishment and competency. Just be sure the chores are age appropriate, so your child has no problem mastering them.
Give your child choices – There are times when it’s easier or safer to choose for your child, but try to give him or her as many choices as you can. When children are allowed to choose for themselves, they feel empowered and can develop good decision-making skills.
Spend a lot of one-on-one time – If you have multiple children, it can be hard to set alone time with them, but it is important for your child’s growth. Spending one-on-one time can help foster your child’s sense of individuality and strengthen your personal relationship. If possible, try to schedule some alone time with each of your children once a week.
Avoid over-praising – We all think the world of our children, so praise tends to come easy. Just be careful about the type of praise you give your child. Instead of gushing with over-the-top praise, be specific about what makes you proud. For example, if your child gets a tricky math problem right, you can say something like, “I like how you used creative thinking to solve that difficult problem” instead of, “you’re the smartest child that ever lived!”
Look at struggles as opportunities – When your child fails at something, as we all eventually do, try to see it as a learning opportunity. Teach them that failure is a part of life and that everyone fails at one point or another. This is also a good time to talk about “failing forward” and how we can use failure to learn and get us closer to other successes in our lives.
Let your child do for his or herself – If your child is capable of doing something herself, let her. Every time you step in and do something that she could be doing, you’re sending the message that you do it better. Maybe you do, she’s just learning, but the only way she’s going to get better and feel good about her abilities is to do things for herself.
We all want to be parents of strong and independent children, and we can be those parents. We just have to take a step back and let them do, learn and grow for themselves.