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Family on holidaysBuilding Your Child's Self Esteem

 

Self-esteem is a key ingredient in maximizing a child's potential in academic achievement, social success and personal happiness. We all want to protect our children, keep them from harms way and safeguard them from danger. Fundamentally it is the child’s own inner beliefs and self-esteem that can act like armour against life's challenges.

For a child to reach their full potential a high level of self-esteem is an essential tool. So how can you as a parent boost your child’s self-esteem on a daily basis? To overcome self-esteem issues and lack of confidence we need to identify and redirect the child’s inaccurate beliefs. First we may have to discover what these self-beliefs are. As parents we sometimes automatically assume that our children see themselves as we see them, eternally lovable with huge potential.

However there are other factors influencing a child’s self-esteem such as teachers, peers, sports coaches and the general media at large. We have little control over our children’s experiences in society, however with open and regular communication we can get a glimpse of their inner world and do our best to help them deal with their challenges and support them in their growth.

Nowadays it seems like children and young people spend more time in cyber-space interacting than in the real world. However we can use this to our advantage, perhaps send an e-mail or facebook message on a regular basis to your child/teenager enquiring about their life, sharing a joke or some family story that you both like. You may be surprised at how they respond in writing as opposed to face to face.

Also on the subject of modern technology, plan some interaction time with your children by becoming interested in something that excites them, be it the latest X-box game they can teach you about, or TRY listening to their latest favourite rock-band and really listening when they talk to you about it. You may be surprised to see them so animated and articulate, especially in the teen years.

Some other practical and economical ways of boosting your child’s self-esteem through everyday opportunities include, cooking together (even if its only rice krispy buns:-), taking care of the pets together, maybe walk the dog as an excuse to spend time outside the confines of the house and provide an opportunity for a casual catch-up.  Gardening is also an ideal mutual pastime, especially for younger children, watching something grow together and passing on your knowledge of plants can create a powerful bond.

For younger children, have them make their own lunch to boost their level of independence and competence, praise them at every turn. Making self-esteem posters together, something as simple as a sun or rainbow image to make a positive statement, or positive words such as 'I am amazing’! Put positive notes around the house.... post-its, fridge magnets, notes in lunch boxes, just to remind everyone in the house of the positive self-esteem that everyone wants to attain.

Any sport / game played together as a family has the potential to raise a child's self-esteem just through the interaction alone. Also the physical exercise from playing a sport can lead to the releasing of feel-good endorphins, which can produce a bonding experience, which can lead to open discussions. When playing a board/other game try to make it as interactive and non-competitive as possible, charades is a great game for this as it also encourages their imaginations too.

On the creative side of things, drawing or even colouring in together can create space for positive interaction, perhaps if your teenager is studying Art you could offer to be their life-drawing subject. On this theme crafts can also be a reason to get together, knitting or sewing or even up-cycling old clothes with your teenage daughter can create a space to boost their self-esteem.

Other activities may include re-modelling their room, this does not have to be expensive, introduce them to charity shops where nic-nacs, fabric and posters/paintings are readily available at pocket-money prices. A vacation also doesn't need to cost alot of money, from a day-trip on a sight-seeing bus at your nearest city, to museum outings, public parks and gardens or a good old-fashioned picnic/camping.... even if it is your back yard. Remember these are your children’s formative years and the more quality time and attention you can give them the higher will be their self-esteem and self-confidence.

As a final note the ultimate teaching is by example, so if you want high self-esteem for your children, make sure you are working daily on your own. Taking care of yourself with some time-outs, like a solitary walk, a long bath or just daily doses of positive self-talk. Know that you are doing your best as a parent, no one else has a manual and there is NO such thing as a PERFECT parent, so trust you are doing your best with a little help from your friends here at HelpMe2Parent.ie.