We all want our children to grow up having a healthy self-esteem. Many parents try to foster self-esteem by telling their children, repeatedly, how beautiful they are, how clever they are, or how proud they are of their achievements. While these things certainly leave your child feeling good about themselves temporarily, it can create a problem when they don’t quite achieve what you (or they) had expected. Humans do not necessarily develop a sense of self-worth and healthy self-esteem from being told they are clever.
Children will develop healthy self esteem when they feel completely accepted and validated.
Parents need to validate their children’s feelings and experiences to allow the child to feel accepted and understood. A child is then less likely to feel afraid of their own feelings or behaviour and will develop a secure sense of self.
When parents focus on the child’s efforts as well as their achievements they are also able to foster a healthy self-esteem. When you praise your child’s effort you give them the opportunity to feel proud of themselves despite the outcome. No-one can achieve perfectly every time and we don’t want a child’s self-esteem to flail when they don’t come out on top. Allow your child the opportunity to make mistakes. Show him how to learn from those mistakes, and that he is accepted and loved even when he is not perfect.
Encourage your child to set her own goals. Many parents try to sway their children in the direction they want them to go. Allowing your child to set her own goals not only respects her autonomy, but also gives her the opportunity to work towards goals that are important to her. You child is more likely to achieve goals she has set for herself and, so too, experience the sense of pride and achievement in meeting those goals.
Children are deeply affected by their parents words. Watch what you say and how you say it. Never use words that are belittling, and when correcting, make sure you correct the behaviour and not the person. Your praise will carry more weight than praise from others so use encouraging words and praise often. It goes a long way towards fostering self esteem.