By Dr. Joe Rubino
Parents can do much to support their children to feel good about themselves and to champion their child’s self-image. Here are 5 specific things parents can do to build high self esteem in children.
1. Parents can continually reinforce the concept that no one is perfect and all one can do is their best. They can be a source of unconditional love, supporting the child at every opportunity and encouraging them to see themselves as worthy of affection, abundance, love, and trust. They can make sure that the child understands that they, as parents, might not always agree with the child’s behavior. However, they can continually reinforce that the child is NOT their behavior. Everyone makes mistakes and life is a process of learning and growing. No matter what mistakes the child makes, he or she must realize that they are always inherently good, lovable, and worthy.
2. Parents can continually tell their children with their words and actions that they love them unconditionally. Children need to realize that even when they make mistakes and parents do not approve of their behavior, this does not affect their love for them or their sense of value. Children will benefit from knowing that they are loved for who they are, not just what they do.
3. Parents can speak respectfully to their children, reassuring them of their competence, capability, and inherent value. They can empower them to make their own choices whenever possible, fostering their belief in their own ability to make wise decisions and learn from any mistakes. They can give them responsibilities that nurture their self-confidence and belief in their abilities. Whether that looks like making their bed, helping with household chores, or selecting their favorite juice at the grocery store, each can serve as an opportunity for the child to grow in self-confidence.
4. Parents can consistently acknowledge their children for worthwhile qualities they see in them. They can get into the habit of finding something good about them every day and pointing it out. Rather than just finding fault and catching kids doing things wrong, parents can make a habit of catching kids doing things right and praising them for their progress, especially in difficult areas and challenging relationships.
5. Parents can support their children to see what might be missing for them to be more effective with other people or in accomplishing their goals. Rather than focusing on their weakness and faults, they can empower their strengths and communicate that everyone has unique talents and gifts that make them special. They can support children to identify their passions and pursue their special interests and develop their gifts.