The elementary school years play a formative role in shaping a child’s self-esteem and confidence. Children with high self-esteem typically tackle new challenges more effectively, achieve more success in school, and generally exhibit fewer personal and behavioral issues.
On the contrary, children with low self-esteem tend to experience higher levels of anxiety and frustration. Additionally, low self-esteem can cause children to become passive and withdrawn from school and friends. As self-esteem plays a critical role in a child’s overall personality development, attitude, and persona, parents can utilize five specific strategies to boost their child’s positive feelings and confidence.
Five Strategies for Self Esteem
According to the Nemours Foundation, self-esteem is the term that is used to describe a child’s general feelings of self-worth. Self-esteem is often gauged by how one collectively feels about him or herself, and self-esteem also influences our personal beliefs about our abilities, desires, and interests.
The Nemours Foundation further articulates that parents play a large role in their child’s development of esteem: “As kids try, fail, try again, fail again, and then finally succeed, they develop ideas about their own capabilities. At the same time, they're creating a self-concept based on interactions with other people.” Experts assert that parents should implement specific strategies to encourage the positive development of their child’s esteem and confidence.
1. Use Positive Encouragement
One of the best ways to boost self-esteem in your child is by providing positive encouragement when your child excels or performs a task as you have taught or directed. As the Nemours Foundation supports, children are very sensitive and receptive to their parents’ feedback. As a result, praise should be given when a child puts in a good demonstration of effort—even if the child does not succeed. While parents do not want to over-emphasize their child’s successes each day, parents should strive to give their children consistent and honest complimentary feedback.
2. Teach Boundaries and Lessons
Before engaging in a new activity or routine, clearly explain the details of good behavior to your child. For example, if your child is planning to attend their first party with peers, you should help teach them how to interact before the party. To prepare your child, explain how to be polite with friends, introduce him or herself, and compliment friends in nice ways.
Adding to this, explain negative behaviors that your son/daughter should avoid. Specifically, teach children that gossiping is not nice, hitting is not acceptable, saying mean comments will not be tolerated, and so forth.
If your children know the boundaries and guidelines before they interact with their peers, then they have the opportunity to exceed in new situations as they strive to meet your expectations. Be sure to compliment them on their positive interactions and follow up with constructive feedback to correct any misbehavior.
3. Provide Feedback and Corrections
When your child engages in a new activity or interaction, provide your child with specific feedback, highlighting what they have done well and what they can improve upon. For example, you can give them comments like, “I like how you (fill in the blank).” To provide constructive feedback, offer comments such as, “You are always so good at (fill in the blank). Let’s try to work on building on (name the skill here) so you’ll do great at both of those things!”
Boost Kids, a self-esteem program for children, expounding on this concept, asserts that feedback is imperative for a child’s esteem development. “Effective feedback gives kids specific information about the good and bad things they do in a constructive, respectful way that helps them improve. They will exhibit even better behavior if they clearly understand the cause and effect.” By offering constructive feedback in a positive way, your child will be taught how to improve instead of feeling put down or punished with words that are discouraging.
This video offers ways to boost a child's self-esteem and confidence.
4. Correct Inaccurate Beliefs
If your child reveals various inaccurate beliefs about his or her abilities, it is essential to identify and correct these beliefs with your child immediately. If a child is obsessed with perfection or is, to the contrary, convinced he or she will never succeed, parents must guide the child toward accepting more accurate standards. As the Nemours Foundation supports, “Helping kids set more accurate standards and be more realistic in evaluating themselves will help them have a healthy self-concept.” When you notice any inaccurate statements of self-worth from your child, engage in a dialogue about their attitudes and follow up with conversations and positive feedback/encouragement.
5. Provide Consistent Love and Support
Children who are provided with love and support tend to have greater ease in building their own concepts of self-esteem and self-value. Love and support often mean taking time away from a busy schedule to sit, chat, or play with their child. On the other hand, love and support may also mean that a parent needs to seek professional assistance to guide their child toward greater self-esteem.
Ultimately, the more time and attention a parent is able to devote to teaching their children positive concepts of self-worth, the more successful and satisfied the child may be in his or her academic and social life.
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