Develop a healthy self esteem in your kids

What is self esteem? It is the ability to be confident in oneself and trust your own judgement and consider yourself worthy of something. Why is this an important quality to develop in kids? Because we want them to be well-rounded individuals who can and will do the right things when we are not around. It allows them to stand up for themselves, express their real thoughts without the fear of being judged or rejected by whosoever. So

1. Respect FEELINGS

If we want our children to be HONEST with us about how they feel and what they think as they get older, and if we want them to value and trust their own feelings, we need to show them that we respect feelings right from the start.When we ignore our kids’ feelings, or don’t allow the expression of certain ones (usually the negative ones), we are sending them a message that that part of their self is not acceptable.What then happens is the child becomes very good at hiding away those parts of their true selves and they begin to “put on a good face” for others.  This “pretend” self often leads to a feeling of being misunderstood, and lonely.My favourite parenting experts, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, wrote an entire chapter in their book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, on how to acknowledge your child’s feelings. It’s not difficult to learn, and it makes a huge impact!2. FULFILL Our Kids’ NEEDS for Attention, Love, & Connection So They Feel VALUEDWhen I first started learning about the attachment parenting style after my son was born, someone gave me an analogy that has stuck in my mind ever since.  It went something like this:

Children are like fruit.  They do not spoil when they are taken care of and paid attention to. They spoil when they are left alone.

I know the wording sounds awkward there, but the idea has a lot of value. Basically, kids thrive on our attention and love.  This is just common sense.We can’t spoil our kids by giving them too much attention or encouragement.  Instead, the more time and connection we can build with them when they are young, the happier and healthier and more emotionally safe they will feel as they grow.Kids that feel secure in the knowledge that their needs will be met when they are young, come to develop a view of the world that it is a safe and secure place where happiness can be received.  Kids whose needs are not met regularly as children, come to view the world as an unsafe place where their needs cannot or will not be met.Do you see how that might affect self-esteem?

3. Parent POSITIVELY

Kids flourish in a positive environment where mistakes are allowed, problems are approached to solve together, and everyone feels equally respected.Have you heard about the 3 different types of parenting styles: authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative?Authoritarian parents need to be in charge, try to constantly control their children, and punish when kids step out of line.  Their motto might be, “My way or the highway!”Permissive parents allow their kids to do whatever they want without regard for others. Kids can trample others’ rights, including parents and siblings, without consequences or follow-up.Their motto might be, “Do whatever you want sweetie – I don’t want to stifle you!”Authoritative parents are firm, but kind and respectful of their kids’ needs and wishes. When their kids make mistakes or hurt others, they problem solve together, set limits, and allow natural consequences.Their motto might be, “I love and respect you and am here to guide you.”Research has shown time and again that there are many benefits to bringing up kids in authoritative households.

 4. Parent UNCONDITIONALLY

According to parenting expert Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason, parenting unconditionally means that regardless of our kids’ choices and behaviour, we show them we love and respect them at all times.We don’t withdraw love and attention, or punish when our kids make mistakes.  We problem-solve.We don’t reward or use other bribes to try to control our kids’ behaviour.  We try instead to encourage positive behaviour through coaching, modelling, and teaching our kids what we expect.The use of both punishment and rewards, is associated with poor self-esteem in children. Kids may feel controlled and shamed by these parenting methods, and it takes a toll on how they eventually come to feel about themselves.Keep-the-Mask-Off

5. ENCOURAGE Instead of Praise

You may well be asking yourself now something like, “If punishment and praise can lower my child’s self-esteem, how do I motivate my child to behave?” The answer is positive encouragement.By definition, praise evaluates kids.  It gives a child your opinion on their behaviour and detracts from a child’s own ability to decide for themselves how or what they have done well.Eg. “(I think) You’re awesome!”“(I think) You’re so smart!”“What a GOOD boy/girl.”“(I think) That’s a great job.”Encouragement simply describes what kids have achieved and allows the kids to praise themselves and draw conclusions. This builds self-esteem and pride.Eg. “You cleaned up all your toys by yourself! Wow!”Child’s likely conclusion: I can do things by myself and be responsible.“You shared all your toys with your friend today and you took turns too.”Child’s likely conclusion: I’m friendly and caring.“You made your Dad very happy today when you helped him rake the leaves.”Child’s likely conclusion: I’m caring and helpful.

6. Encourage ASSERTIVENESS

Assertiveness is directly tied to self-esteem.  Kids who learn ways to solve problems assertively instead of aggressively, have more positive relationships with others.Kids who approach life assertively, are less likely to be taken advantage of and abused. They stick up for themselves.  They protect their physical and emotional boundaries and do not passively let others walk all over them.

7. Allow Kids to Say NO and DISAGREE with You (respectfully!)

It’s not only important to respect our kids’ feelings, it’s also important to respect their THOUGHTS.If we want our kids to be able to stick up for themselves when they are teens and adults, they need to practise doing this respectfully in a safe environment.Teach them to disagree AGREEABLY using words like, “I disagree.  I feel that….” or “I disagree.  I think that…”Teach your kids the meaning of the word COMPROMISE and model it with them and with your partner.

8. Avoid LABELLING

According to Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, (How To Talk), we are doing our kids a huge disservice when we label them.Using negative phrases like, “You’re so lazy!” are obviously harmful.  But even positive labels, like, “You’re the smart one,” or “You’re such a good girl,” can also put our kids in a “box” that they feel they may not be able to leave without disappointing you, or causing conflict.My husband and I have been reminded of this repeatedly by my son ever since he learned to say his name.  Whenever we slip up and “label” him (e.g. “You’re a silly-billy, Onetime!” or “You’re so goofy!” ) he speaks up loudly and says, “No Mommy. I’m JUST Onetime!”Nobody likes to be TOLD who they are by someone else.  Let’s instead let our kids decide for themselves who they want to be, without our labels.  Their self-esteem will thank us for it!

9. Respect INDIVIDUALITY

Just a quick word on individuality.  Our kids, just like us, have their own likes and dislikes, sensitivities, temperaments, levels of activity, and quirks.  Respecting that many of these differences are biologically determined can help us understand our kids better and parent them more sensitively.

10. Teach Them About Personal RIGHTS

One of the easiest ways to help kids develop good self-esteem is to make sure they are aware of their personal rights.Whenever I talk with my students about bullying, we cover these rights and talk about how everyone has them. Sometimes I think this is the first time many kids have been told that their feelings and opinions matter and that they deserve to express them. I plan on making sure that my son is aware of his rights from an early age!This article was published on onetimethrough. 
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