As your children grow up, you naturally want to help them develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. You hope that they feel like they can reach for their goals, navigate challenging situations, and recognize their self-worth and value, even during difficult times. Overall, you want them to be able to take on life with confidence, especially once they reach adulthood.
But you might feel like you’re walking a fine line when it comes to supporting your child’s self-esteem. How can you help your child develop their self-esteem while still teaching them to acknowledge their mistakes and take responsibility when they’re genuinely at fault for a problem?
Let’s explore some strategies for building healthy self-esteem in your children.
1. Show Unconditional Love
First, it’s essential to demonstrate to your children that mistakes or shortcomings don’t lead to punishment. Yes, discipline has its place, but you can reserve discipline for situations in which your child hurt someone else’s feelings or deliberately broke an important household rule.
Your children should know that they will be loved even when they mess up. Otherwise, they’ll be scared to try anything new out of fear of making a mistake.
2. Frame Mistakes as Opportunities
If your child can approach mistakes as learning opportunities, they will feel more comfortable going out of their comfort zone.
For instance, if your child is struggling with a particular school assignment, you can help them learn more about the topic, discuss the assignment from different angles, and guide them through the process of elimination. Sometimes, simply seeing what doesn’t work can show you what does work!
3. Focus on Teaching Key Life Skills
Affirming your child’s talents and intrinsic value as a person is crucial. However, self-esteem does not just come from affirmations. It’s also built through small successes and competency in key life skills. You have the chance to teach your child important skills on a daily basis.
This could include cooking, cleaning, helping out with yard work, and other domestic tasks. As your child gets older, you can spend more time focusing on life skills that entail a higher level of responsibility. Setting your child up for self-sufficiency early on will help them maintain their self-esteem later as they face bigger challenges.
4. Allow Independent Decision-Making
As the years go on, your child will have to make decisions for themselves more and more often. This process starts as early as when they begin making friends outside of their own household and have to start learning how to conduct themselves around other people.
You cannot make all of your child’s decisions for them, but you can teach them to get comfortable with independent decision-making at a young age. Even allowing them to choose their own outfits can help them learn this skill!
Allowing your child to make minor decisions at home is a crucial step towards developing their critical thinking skills.
5. Encourage Problem-Solving
Does your child have a tendency to give up when they’re faced with a tough problem or a challenge in learning a new skill? Problem solving is a skill of its own, and learning not to throw in the towel due to a roadblock can be hard.
You can give your child the encouragement they need to work through difficult situations rather than simply walking away. You could be a sounding board for their ideas and offer advice without telling them exactly what to do. It doesn’t hurt to tell them about times when you’ve had to overcome adversity, too.
Are you concerned about your child’s self-esteem? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.