Building Your Child's Self
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
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
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.