The importance of self-esteem cannot be argued. It is fundamental to mental health, social happiness, and a legit passport to success. Self-esteem does so much that it affects our trust in people, our relationships, our work, basically, in all aspects of our lives. No wonder, it is only natural for parents to worry and be concerned about raising confident kids. It is one of those parenting skills they want to master. Why? Because as parents, we want our kids to know their value, how they perceive that value to the world, and how valuable they think they are to other people.
Self-esteem, however, shouldn’t be mistaken as being vain or egotistical. There is a big difference between raising confident kids and bratty and self-centered individuals. To instill self-esteem to the little ones simply means we teach them how to be comfortable and happy with who they are. Someone worthy to receive and able to give love. This right mindset about self-esteem will help kids feel good about themselves and as a result, become such good companions to others. Also, kids with a proper view of self-worth mean they have a realistic understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. The former allows them to stay positive whilst they deal with the latter.
Here are some practical parenting skills to help to raise a confident child:
Practice attachment parenting – Attachment parenting, in its simplest term, is the responsiveness of parents to their baby’s cues; yes, it starts from birth. For example, when a baby raises her hands, take it as a cue that she wants to be cooed and taken into your arms. Meanwhile, when a baby starts to cry, it means that your baby wants to be fed or comforted. How a parent (or caregiver) promptly and consistently responds to such cues acts like a mental file drawer in your developing infant’s mind. Each file contains a mental picture of the cue your child gave and how you responded each time. These images tell your child what happened, of course, the accumulation of positive images result to positive feelings. It’s as if telling your baby “I’m here, I’m listening. You are worthwhile.” On the other hand, if parents fail at responsive nurturing, this may send out a negative impression and your baby can feel unimportant and helpless. Another importance of this particular newborn advice is that it helps your child develop overall well-being – now and the coming years. This is because they are so used to the positivity and feeling good and when they experience setbacks or interruptions later on in life, they can turn to it to help them cope up easily. Just like a literal file drawer that keeps beautiful memories one can look back and draw strength from.
Heal and improve your own self-esteem – As a parent, you may sometimes suffer from your own low self-confidence. This is because self-esteem is acquired and not inherited. You may have been brought up in such a way that made you doubtful, fearful, and easily angered. If this is a result of how you were parented as a child, take steps to heal yourself and don’t pass it along to your own child. To do this, list the positive and negative things your parents did to build or break your self-image. Keep and emulate the good ones while discarding the bad. If you find it hard to do it on your own, seek professional help. Work on improving your own self-confidence. Regardless how you were raised, strive to be a better parent. Do everything that will benefit you and your child.
Polish your own mirror – Children reflect their parents, positively or the opposite. Your child looks to you for her own feelings and mimics your behavior. Did you notice how your expression reflects in your child? If you’re tired or stressed it will show in your face or when you’re happy and positive that you often smile. Your baby wants the latter and as she grows up, would even come to feel responsible for your happiness. Polishing your mirror allows your children to see a better reflection of themselves, thus emulating better and positive habits and behaviors they learned from you.
Play together – Along with parenting comes the multitude of responsibilities in your shoulders and playing most likely falls on the bottom part of your list. Make no mistake about it, playtime is one of those positive parenting techniques that allows you to get to know your yourself and your child better. Playtime is a great opportunity to bond and build confident kids. Allow your child to initiate the activity since more learning takes place if your child chooses what to do; even if it means doing the same activity over and over again. But here’s the trick, for you not to feel bored about reading a story or playing piggyback ride for the nth time, add a new twist. For example, wear a matching costume while reading a story or take the piggyback ride outdoors, in your backyard perhaps. Also, parents need to play, in fact, playtime is an investment you and your child can benefit from. It will be a time for you to recharged and enjoy the simple joys in life. Meanwhile, as you spend time playing together, even it’s only 30 minutes of undivided attention, your child will not just learn but as well as feel special and valuable.
Address your child by name – There is something about addressing someone by name that tells you “We’re cool, we’re friends, you can tell me things.” The same is true with your child. Calling your child by name or nickname on casual dialogues, especially if accompanied by eye contact and tap at the back exudes a “You’re special” message. On the other hand, to make a deeper impression, for instance when you are angry, calling your child by her full name beef up your message. Children with self-esteem are more open and direct with their communication as they address their peers and adults by name or title.
The importance of the Carry-over principle – The carry-over principle is when your child benefits from a particular activity or enjoyment that builds self-image, and this carries over into other endeavors. For example, if your 2-year old toddler packs pretend picnics exceptionally or when your 10-year old princess loves ballet, encourage her talent(s). Allow your child to enjoy it as you work on other improvements. This is because, sometimes, a child may be good in sports but finds academics more challenging. Work on this particular parenting skill and be amaze at how this carry over principle can help your child recognize strength while improving on weakness.
Set your child up to succeed – This means helping your child discover and develop talents and skills while ensuring a balance between pushing and protecting. Sounds complicated? Simply put, encourage your child to try new things so as to hone talents and skills which build self-esteem. But, make sure to protect your child from unrealistic expectations that could potentially threaten her sense of competence. Another thing to consider is value-by-comparison. Never impress in your child that you value how she performs, instead, it should be of who she is. For instance, when your child participates in sports activities and doesn’t deliver as much as you expected, it shouldn’t matter. Regardless if she excels or not, your love and support for her does not change and will never depend on her performance.
Lose the label – A label acts like a cage, trapping your child’s potentials and self-esteem. For example, if you’re child is asthmatic, a few puffs of bronchodilator will clear the wheezing, but being labeled as “asthmatic” can be carried along, in fact, wore often that it becomes a trademark. If your child becomes known for it instead of the whole person, the people around, even family members will focus on that, and might even base decisions based on the label. Your kid may have asthma, but you can’t allow your child and your lives to revolve around the illness.
Give your child responsibilities – Another great help for parents when it comes to developing self-esteem in children is by giving them responsibilities like simple household duties. A 2-year old toddler can be taught how to fold table napkins for dinner, while a 3-year old child can clean the sink using a sponge. A 7-year old kid can make her own breakfast of cereals and fruits or have her help you while you bake cupcakes. When a task is finished, your child will feel a sense of accomplishment, something that boosts self-esteem.
Encourage your child to express and control feelings – A child with unbridled emotions becomes a brat while someone who doesn’t show emotions becomes too reserved. The key is to keep the balance – able to express emotions when necessary, but also able to stay calm when difficulties arise. As you teach this to your child, make sure to watch how you respond. Let your child feel that she can openly and comfortably talk to you while acknowledging her feelings, whether positive or negative and that you are always there to listen and guide.
Raising confident kids may be tough and a long-term commitment for parents. Know that you can succeed on it. Start from infancy, hold your baby a lot, spend time, play a lot, enjoy the bond, and let your child thrive on responsibilities. And then you can see your baby blossom into a beautiful person whose self-esteem is balanced and developing naturally for the better.