Ten Important Steps to Increase Your Child’s Self Esteem and Confidence
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All parents have the hope that their children will grow up to be fully-functioning, competent, and self-confident adults. These are a few starting points that will facilitate that goal:
- Give your child a sense of security by providing a stable home environment. Children who are confident that their parents love each other and extend that same love to their children have a basis for support that they need to grow and develop normally. They need role models of parents who are mature in their behavior. Boys especially need the example of a father who loves his wife and is willing to sacrifice for the family.
- Give your children opportunities to develop competency in a variety of different areas. It is not so important that children devote their entire time to learning in one narrow field, but that they have exposure to many experiences in music, sports, work, the arts, and academics. Children benefit in many ways from activities such as karate, Kids MMA, gymnastics, and team sports. First, they recognize that their parents care for them enough to facilitate their involvement in those activities. They learn to respect the authority of the teacher, to learn from his or her example, to accept discipline, to keep trying in the face of difficulty, to honor the commitment of attending practices and competitions. They also have opportunity to socialize with other children with similar goals and aspirations.The positive benefits of these experiences will transfer to other pursuits later in their lives such as in academics and employment.
- Be aware of the peer culture in your neighborhood and schools. Particularly as children reach the pre-teen and teenage years, they will be heavily influenced by the other children in their environment.This peer influence will often be as important to their development as their home and family influence.By all means avoid living in a neighborhood where there is obvious neglect and lack of supervision for children. Screen local schools carefully to avoid those that have a poor record of competency.Your children will be spending a large part of their lives in their schools. Find those that will reinforce your values of hard work and fairness.
- Teach your child to have concern and empathy for other people. This may be accomplished by modeling, but it also needs to be emphasized in one-on-one teaching moments.Active involvement in religious groups or Boy or Girl Scouts or other organizations that promote honor and decency will reinforce teaching of ethics in the home. Encourage association with other children who are learning similar values.Eventually children will take on the values of their peers.
- Provide opportunities for children to make decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions. Do not encourage perfectionism.Children who think they have to be perfect are usually afraid to try new experiences. They lack the ability to deal with the stress and anxiety that are an inevitable part of life.If they learn early on that they may not win every grappling contest or that they may fall off the bike as they learn that skill, they will have the personal courage to leave failure behind and try again.Praise your child for making the attempt, not for just the victory of success.
- Never do for the child that which he can do for himself. Some children and adults develop the habit of depending on someone else to solve their problems. This stifles their ability to think and act for themselves. Self-confidence grows out of competence, not dependence.Start teaching a child to contribute to the goals of the family by having him put away his own clothes and toys. Praise his sincere efforts to take care of his own needs.
- Provide reasonable structure, family standards, and if necessary, discipline in the family. Children thrive on consistency, but parents must make a concerted effort to overcome lazy parenting and provide that predictable environment. Set reachable rules and follow through with the consequences if those rules are ignored.If children experience similar structure in their school classrooms and in their enrichment activities, they will more likely develop the self-control necessary to function successfully in those settings. If children “goof-off” in their MMA or other sports practices, they should know that they will be expected to “drop down and do ten push ups.”
- As a parent, provide positive and encouraging feed back to your child. Be honest. Praising a child for his inadequate effort only teaches him that he can slide by with less than he is capable of. In many sports programs, children receive medals and trophies for mere participation. That practice dilutes the honor of winning hard-earned recognition.Your child will know immediately if he actually deserves the praise, but he will stop trying hard if he is praised lavishly when he has not earned it. Instead, find some specific part of his performance that he did well, even though he may not have won the match or the game or whatever. Praise him for “hanging in there” despite his inadequacy over all.
- As a parent, avoid labeling your children. Do not ever refer to them as “stupid” or “awkward” or “ugly” or use any other derogatory words. Children actually believe what their parents tell them and negative labels will take a toll on their self-image.Never compare siblings by saying, “She is the pretty one, the athletic one, the smart one, etc.” Children need to feel that they are free to develop and change their minds, and exercise their agency without the pressure of being expected to always live up to the labels that their parents have given them.
- As a parent, pay attention to problems that may be interfering with your child’s social adjustment. Within your means, provide clothing so that they will fit in with other children. Take measures to correct crooked teeth, acne, prominent ears or other features, which may lead to ridicule from other children. Teach them to keep themselves and their clothing clean. Practice good manners in the home so that they are second nature to your children outside the home.If your child has irrational fears, help him to learn to face them rather that to succumb to them. The best friend your child has in learning self-confidence is you, his loving and encouraging parents.
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