In all children – without any exception – we should admire what is best in them, and improve only what needs to be improved.
Today, we want to focus your attention on children’s self-esteem, or in particular what we – the parents – can do to make our children feel confident.
We would like to give you some practical tips on how to help children feel good about themselves and how to help them discover their own self-esteem.
A family environment in which a child or a young person grows up is essential for the proper development of self-esteem. This is achieved by showing love and acceptance, accompanying the child in successes but also in failures, setting reasonable goals, agreeing to experience all emotions (in an acceptable way for the family), listening to the child with attention or being a guide. Children who do not feel the support and acceptance of their parents approach new activities and tasks with anxiety, fear, lack of self-confidence.
What can we do to make children feel good about themselves?
Good advice/ Overprotection
It is clear that we are concerned about our children. We often want to spare them worries, annoyance or suffering. Then we try to show them a way out of a problem, give advice on what they should do and how to proceed.
Such an approach resulting from our care and love for them, unfortunately, does not contribute to building their sense of self-esteem. Listening to and supporting your child may work better. When children constantly hear good advice, i.e. what they should, and what they shouldn’t to, it hampers their creativity and ability to find a solution on their own.
Do not try to find a solution to all the problems of our children, let them face the problems on their own. Suffering, disappointment, frustration, regret – these are unpleasant feelings, but they help our children to mature. The struggling with them actually shapes their character.
The daughter was not nominated to represent the school in the recitation competition. In previous years she took part in them. In your opinion, this year she should take part in it, too.
Parent: ‘Don’t worry, you’re a special girl anyway. You have a real talent for recitation. We will find another contest in which you can take part.
Daughter, explodes with tears and screams: ‘You always tell me what to do. How do you know that I wanted to take part in it at all? Now I don’t want it anymore!’
This way we give our child a message: Do not look for a solution on your own. I (the parent) have more experience in my life, so I know better what to do.
When we are able to accept the child’s feelings and allow them to look for a solution on their own, we give the child strength. We do not deliver further worries such as. I will not be able to deal with this on my own; I am too weak.
The fact that we do not want to help our child in every difficult situation does not mean that we do not care about them. Parents who are able to see their children’s pain and listen to them – give them much more than just good advice.
As long as there is at least one person in the world who can really listen to us and really feel sorry for us, you can put up with everything.
If there is a situation in which we really want the child to know our opinion on the matter, we can tell them:
This is my viewpoint, what is yours?
Children are fed up with judgements, constant assessment and preaching about what they should or shouldn’t do. Methods that use sarcasm, threats, promises can often turn against parents.
We often witness quarrels between our children or conflict situations in general. Instead of constant judging, it may be more helpful to give initiative to children: let them try to find solutions to their own problems.
Children argue about who is to be the first to play with the new blocks. Instead of intervening and setting your own rules, try to give them the initiative.
Parent: ‘Children – I think you can find a solution that is satisfactory for both of you.’ or: ‘Look for a peaceful solution to your argument.’
This approach brings good energy and willingness to communicate in children. Whit this experience children also learn that tehy can solve a problem on their own.
One of our primary goals as parents is to help our children be independent of us. To be able to live on their own.
Hhh..mmm?! Yes, it is the right time to say a few words about the autonomy of our children.
Autonomy is self-reliance, self-governance, independence, individuality. Is this not what we want for our children?
A child needs space and time to recognize their thoughts and intentions. Ready answers and advice from parents are not always helpful. On the contrary, they violate a child’s right to think for themselves. Most parents want to protect their children and give them advise. It also happens that sometimes we want to control them and manage their lives.
Remember, however, that taking control over everything children do is not a good solution. It also gives a negative message to the child about us (the parents).
“I will get your clothes ready. You look like a clown when you get dreseed yourself.
‘I’ll button it for you, we know you can’t do it.’
‘Shall I help you with your homework, it’s so difficult.’
“Mummy will come and pick you up after class, why wait for the bus at school”.
When we are able to give the child autonomy, we offer them our love. Let your child use their own resources. This sometimes involves experiencing unpleasant things. However, any other way means that we do not want them to live their lives to the full.
Every time we let our child go through the decision-making process, we give them an invaluable experience that can be used now and in adulthood.
You are in a shop, your son wants to buy a T-shirt. He takes the two T-shirts to the mirror to see which one will suit him better.
Mom: ‘This red one really suits you.’
Son: ‘But I prefer the striped one.’
Mom: ‘In the striped one you will look like a prison runaway.’
Son: ‘Okay, then. I’ll take the red one.’
The son gave in to the opinion of his mother, ignoring his view.
Son: ‘Dad, Should I go for training today? I have a headache and a lot of homework to do.’
Instead of saying:
Dad: 1We don’t pay for your training so that you can stay at home.’
You can try by asking a question:
Dad: ‘And what do you think about it?’
Son: Hmmm…. my head probably hurts me from hunger. I’ll eat something and rest for a while. Then I’ll do some homework and I’ll be ready for training. When I come back, all I have to do is finish reading.’
Hundreds of such examples could be given, but this is not the case. We wanted to draw your attention to a very important aspect, namely that it is us – parents – who sometimes inadvertently deprive our children of their inner strength.
We are also used to thinking that we need to put a brake on the unrealistic plans of our child in order to protect them from disappointment. We are also used to thinking that we need to put a brake on the unrealistic plans of our child in order to protect them from disappointment. Cultivate the dreams of our children and let them put to experience their desires, plans and dreams. This is their internal treasure.
A peasant approached three workers. ‘What are you doing?’, he asked them. The first worker answered: ‘I earn for my living.’ The other replied: ‘I lay bricks.’ The third one answered: ‘I am building a cathedral.’
[Quote from the book: Liberation of parents, Liberated children – A.Faber, E.Mazlish]
Time for a summary
If we learn to apply these educational methods, we have a chance to teach our children more than just being obedient and polite. We can show children how to be a man who is able to manage his life confidently and with dignity. And most importantly, we will equip them with authentic strength, giving them an adequate sense of self-esteem.
We would like to invite you to the new issue of our blog next week.