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boysplayinginballs675x450Many people have a strong opinion on the importance of self-esteem in children.  Some people think too much emphasis is placed on self-esteem today. However, most believe strongly that self-esteem development is crucial in children.

The truth is that both opinions are correct.  There is probably too much emphasis on self-esteem today, and self-esteem development is crucial.  However, there is a middle ground.  The emphasis should not be on building self-esteem but rather helping children learn and grow, so they naturally develop a feeling of worth and value.

Self-esteem is a major key to success in life.  The development of a positive self-concept or healthy self-esteem is extremely important to the happiness and success of children.

Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves, and our behavior clearly reflects those feelings. If you child has high self-esteem, she is likely to act independently, assumes responsibility, takes pride in her accomplishments, deals with frustration, attempts new tasks and challenges, handles positive and negative emotions, and offer assistance to others.  If your child has low self-esteem, he will avoid trying new things, feel unloved and unwanted, blame others for his shortcomings, feel (or pretend to feel) emotionally indifferent, be unable to tolerate a normal level of frustration, put down his talents and abilities, and may be easily influenced.

Parents have the most influence on their child’s self-esteem.  Most parents do not realize how great an impact their words and actions have on their child.  Below are five ways to help build your child’s self-esteem.

Be Quick With Praise

When you feel good about your child, tell him.  Parents are often quick to express negative feelings to children but often don’t get around to describing positive feelings.  A child does not know when you are feeling good about him unless you tell him. He needs to hear you tell him that you like having him in the family.  Children remember positive statements we say to them.  They store them up and “replay” these statements to themselves.  Make a point of giving your child words of encouragement throughout each day.  Look for situations in which your child is doing a good job, working hard, trying a new challenge, overcoming a difficulty or displaying a talent.

Be Generous with Your Praise

Use what is called descriptive praise rather than the general, such as “good job.”  For example, during a recent swimming lesson my son was expected to swim the length of the pool.  He was frightened and didn’t think he could make it.  When he accomplished the goal, I told him I was proud of him for two things.  One for trying even though he was afraid and two for pushing himself to reach his goal.

Make Them Talk the Talk

Teach your child to practice making positive self-statements.  Psychologists have found that negative self-talk is frequently the cause of depression and anxiety.  What we think determines how we feel about ourselves and those feelings determine how we behave.  This is the reason it is important to teach children to talk to themselves in a positive manner.  You can start them off by asking directed questions.

Avoid Name Calling

While it is often important for parents to be critical, the focus should be on the action you would like to see rather than the child.  Rather than calling a child a slob for keeping a messy room, focus on the desired action – sorting clothes and toys into their proper places.  Encourage the child by saying something like “I know you can get this place ship shape by dinner” and reward them with specific praise “You did a great job cleaning up your room.”

Always Speak Of Your Child As If They Were Listening

Many parents do a wonderful job of building up their child’s self-esteem while spending time with the child.  Then later they undo all their good work and let the child overhear some negative comments. It is difficult to explain away or undo this damage as you may well not even know when it occurs. Obviously, parents need to communicate with each other about their children and adults often need to vent their frustrations. Just make sure when you do so that your child is not able to overhear.  Even a child who is apparently concentrating on playing will perk his ears when he hears his name.

If you follow these five methods then your child’s self- esteem will grow.

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