Building Self-esteem in Children

To foster self-esteem in your children, role-model self-respect and a respectful attitude, appreciate the positive without exaggerating, give specific constructive criticism without negative judgment.

How do you build self-esteem in your children?

Children learn from their parents in two ways. They learn from the parents’ own self-esteem and from how the parents treat them.

1. They view their parents as role models.

As a parent, you have to embody self-respect. This means appreciating yourself, your positive actions and your talents without becoming arrogant. You also need to be able to be self-critical in a positive constructive way, without being overly negative. If you make a mistake, focus on positive steps you can take to improve.

When a parent views his or her mistakes in a neutral objective way, rather than wallowing in misery, the child learns to replicate that behavior.

2. Children also learn from the way parents treat them.

It’s important for parents to treat their children with respect. When parents appreciate their children’s skills and abilities, they should appreciate specific actions and efforts rather than giving exaggerated and over-blown general compliments. Don’t artificially boost their self-esteem by glorifying their accomplishments. This behavior backfires. Children often see through it, or this behavior simply puts added pressure on the child to be the “best,” the “smartest,” etc. in order to feel worthwhile.

When you criticize your children, don’t belittle or demean them. Give constructive guidance. Never use shame or guilt, which simply makes a child feel inadequate and worthless. Instead inspire them and give positive specific suggestions, or converse with them and let them come up with a step-by-step approach.

In essence, avoid exaggerated self-criticism and arrogance. Also avoid over-blown criticism and inflated praise. Try to relate with reasonable kindness and respect.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Parenting Together: Authoritarian vs. Permissive Parenting.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × five =