Helping Your Child Build Self-Esteem

Helping Your Child Build Self-Esteem

A recent study found that self-esteem is developed much earlier than we previously thought—in fact, they found that the sense of self-confidence in five-year-olds was as strong as in adults. While self-esteem levels can fluctuate over the years, it’s important to realize that our children start building the foundation for their self-esteem at such a young age, and it’s just as important for us to figure out what we can do to help.

The American Academy of Pediatrics explains that “self-esteem is shaped not only by a child’s own perceptions and expectations, but also by the perceptions and expectations of significant people in their life—how they are thought of and treated by parents, teachers, and friends.” With that in mind, here are a couple of characteristics that will help your child develop of healthy sense of self-confidence:

Competence

building self-confidence and self-esteemYour child’s self-confidence will increase as they make real decisions that affect matters important to them. Of course, make sure that these decisions are age appropriate. As your child sees the positive results of their decisions, it will increase their confidence in their ability to make decisions.

But decision-making isn’t the only area where your child can build their confidence with increased competence—problem-solving is important, too. As your child learns how to tackle life’s challenges successfully on their own, they’ll develop a sense of personal pride in their work and their abilities. The tricky part is making sure that the challenges aren’t too hard or too easy. If they’re too easy, your child may develop a false sense of security. If they’re too hard, your child may feel hopeless and powerless.

But as we all know, mistakes will happen along the way. It’s important to teach your child that mistakes are a part of life and that they can be used as learning opportunities. As a parent, use this opportunity to give positive, constructive feedback in which you give specific thoughts on what could have been done better, rather than just acknowledging or dwelling on the mistake.

Finally, giving your child added responsibility will help them further develop the skills they need to survive in the real world. When appropriate, resist the urge to hover over them; this lets them know that you trust them, which in turn increases their confidence in their own abilities.

Support

When your child reaches a goal or shows improvement, let them know that you noticed. Give them the recognition and encouragement they deserve either during or soon after the activity (although better late than never!). The sooner you give feedback, the easier it is for your child to connect that feedback to the activity you’re talking about and the easier it is for that feedback to stick.

For more information on the web, visit healthychildren.org. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding your child’s development, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.

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