Imagine a time in which you felt really positive about yourself. You probably felt confident and found it easy to interact with others. You felt happy and content. You did not feel the need to prove your worth.
Self-esteem is a vital component within mental health and involves respect and a favorable view of oneself. A child’s self-esteem impacts how he or she interacts with the world. Low self-esteem can be seen in a child’s behavior, body language, and approach to life. Behaviors may include avoidance, talking negatively about himself/herself, and lack of effort. Furthermore, negative emotions may be experienced including sadness, anxiety, depression, shame, anger and hostility. Overall, these feelings and behaviors may contribute to academic difficulties.
As a parent, you want what is best for your child. You want the whole world to know that your child is awesome, amazing, wonderful, loving, etc. However, when your child does not believe that he or she is all of those positive characteristics, you may feel discouraged and helpless.
The question remains – how do you raise a confident child? Here are a few suggestions:
- Try to take a step back. It is important for your child to become competent. Remember, competence takes time and effort. Children become more competent by trying, even if it means failing a couple of times (Taylor, 2011).
- Do not be a helicopter parent who “hovers” closely over your child. Helicopter parenting involves doing for your child what he or she can do; doing for your child what he or she can almost do; and being motivated by your own ego when parenting. Do not try to catch them every time they are about to fall - allow your child to take healthy risks.
- Clarify what it means to “lose” or “fail”. If a child views unsuccessful attempts as “losing” or “failing,” the focus is constantly placed on the outcomes and discouragement may occur. By placing more meaning on the process rather than the outcome, your child will be able to bounce back from a difficult situation more effectively. For example you might ask, “What is something that you did today that was really hard?”
- Allow your child to make their own choices – this helps them to feel empowered. It may be as simple as encouraging your child to choose what clothes to wear.
- Let your child demonstrate his or her competence by helping you around the house.
- Improve your own self-confidence. You are a model for your child – this may involve healing from your own past, identifying your own feelings, and being a positive mirror for your child.
- Engage with your child. Playing with your child implies to them that they are worth your time – they are a valuable person. Let your child initiate the play, whether it might be reading, playing with toys, or playing outside. You may have engaged in this activity with your child numerous times, but keep in mind that child-initiated play increases self-worth.
Reference: Taylor, J. (2011). Your children are listening: Nine messages they need to hear from you. New York, NY: The Experiment, LLC.