A belief in oneself is the foundation of success and happiness. That foundation is laid at a very early age and we, parents, are the ones that lay the first stone of self-esteem or self-doubt in our children. People with high self-esteem have healthy interactions and relationships. Their confidence in their own abilities makes them ambitious, and they tend to be positive and creative thinkers. Aren’t these traits that would make for a happy individual?
Here is a list of actions we can take to build and enhance our child’s self-esteem at an early age:
- Let them decide: Children should be allowed to make some decisions on their own such as which clothes to wear, which activity to join and so on. This makes them feel powerful and compels them to stand by their decision, which in turn teaches them perseverance and focus.
- Limit the praise: Too much praise can actually make a child complacent and lower the standard for excellence. Praise them but let them know they can do better and better. If your child fails to make a straight line, don’t praise him or he will liken praise to lying or think that he doesn’t need to try harder. Tell him it was a good attempt but he has to keep trying until he draws a straight line. Please note, the opposite of praise is not criticism. Criticism can be very damaging to a child’s self-esteem.
- Give them responsibility: Responsibility makes a child feel competent and important. Let your child help around with age-appropriate household chores and be held accountable for them.
- Deal with failures: Teach your child to deal with failure. Life is about winning and losing. It’s about learning from your failures and moving on to succeed. When I told my son about Einstein’s 10,000 failed attempts to make a light bulb, his eyes widened with awe and understanding. He went back to his Lego-building that he had just sworn he will never play because his model kept collapsing.
- Stay involved: Involve yourself in your child’s daily activities within and outside school. Talk to them, cuddle them and show your unwavering love for them. Children thrive on your attention and love, which is imperative for building self-esteem.
- How’s your self-esteem? Children learn a lot from their parents. They idolise you. So set a good example in front of them. Work on your self-esteem and never berate yourself in front of your children. Take care of yourself and do things you love—it’s the secret to self-esteem.
- Introduce the concept of goals: Teach your child to set realistic goals and help them strive to achieve them. The kick of accomplishment at the end of the struggle is something that will always stay with them. It will motivate them to set more goals and attain them.
- Don’t be overprotective: A child who is raised by overprotective parents is scared to make mistakes and take risks. I don’t mean ‘skateboard-off-the-roof kind of risk’ but the confidence to face life’s little problems by themselves. Overprotective parents unwittingly deprive the child of learning problem solving, dealing with disappointment and learning to take responsibility for their actions. Some children of overprotective parents become rebellious as teenagers, always challenging authority figures. You have to show trust in your children for them to be able to trust themselves. Guide, don’t control.
Self-esteem is a remarkable and a crucial quality for an individual to excel and to be happy. If you can imbibe the same in your child, he/she will be invincible in the face of failures and challenges, for all times to come.