Thursday, January 19, 2012

Building REAL Self-Esteem

We all know that it is important for children to feel good about themselves.  However, I think there are right ways, and wrong ways to boost self-esteem. Keep in mind the ultimate goal of raising a child with self-esteem.  For me that goal is raising a child who eventually doesn't need self-esteem boosts from outside sources to understand their self worth.  Self esteem should ultimately come from one's self, not from the approval of others (even your mom).  Our job as parents is to authentically and honestly tell, and show, our children their worth.

Here are some positive ways to build REAL self-esteem.

1 - Focus on positive character traits your child displays, or you want them to have (a little self-fulfilled prophecy never hurt anyone), instead of what your child does. 

For example, today I started telling Jane that she was going to have fun at swimming lessons because she is such a good swimmer.  I thought about the message I was sending; things are fun if you are good at them.  I changed tactics, and the discussion became about how Jane was going to have fun at swimming lessons because she was brave and not afraid to try new things.  In the long run, those traits are more important to focus on than being a good swimmer.

2 - Make your child finish what they start. 

Self esteem is built by working hard and finishing things, even if no winning is involved.  Always finish a season.  Before starting lessons in something decide beforehand exactly how long your child (and you) are willing to commit before quitting is allowed.

3 - Never give praise in the form of comparison. 

 Your child's accomplishments should stand on their own.  Not because they are better than someone else.  Even when your child wins, try and focus on how hard they worked and how all that hard work paid off.  Comparing your child only creates an adult who is continuously comparing themselves to others in an effort to feel good about themselves.

4 - Allow your child to lose, and then have them try again. 

 This is life.  Winning always feels good, but it doesn't always happen.  Teach your children how to lose graciously, pick themselves up, and keep their feelings of self-worth in tact. 

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