Family Lives recognises that building self esteem in children is an ongoing process and starts early. As parents we don’t always get it right, but as long as you can remember to praise, listen and enforce boundaries in a positive way this will hopefully ensure that your child knows your door will always be open and that you will never withdraw your love and support.
You can help to build your child’s self esteem by letting them know how well they have done and how proud you are of them. Don’t just say this, use descriptive words to ensure that they understand why you are pleased so they don’t just think it’s an “off the cuff” remark. Even though they might feel embarrassed talking to you they need to know that you are there to listen and support, not judge them for feeling the way they do at times.
If they struggle to talk, encourage your child to start a diary or write you a letter which will ensure that they don’t bottle their feelings up. If this is the only way you are able to communicate for a while don’t panic as it means they are still finding a vent to express their feelings. Write letters back and forth if you feel this is helping. Consistent boundaries will ensure that your child feels secure and cared for and all these steps will help to boost your child’s self esteem.
- Here are some top tips for building self esteem in children?
- When things don’t go according to plan, talk the situation through and try to stay calm.
- If you feel your child is struggling with the way they look or feel acknowledge their feelings and ensure that your child feels listened to as their feelings will be very real.
- Pick your moment carefully as having a one to one chat might be a little forceful. Try not to make things too intense to begin with.
- Talk about the positive aspects of your child’s personality and help them to understand that it isn’t always about the way a person looks, it’s the person inside that really counts.
- Try not to label, criticise or blame your child which will give them negative messages which can stick and can have a detrimental impact on their emotional wellbeing later on in life.
- Positive parenting is also vital as it is important that your child knows that you do recognise when they have done well, have made an effort and look good which will help to improve self esteem in children.
When your child feels they have failed or have been rejected try to find something good out of the experience to praise them for. This could be the amount of effort they put in, or the dedication they showed to a project. Engage with the about changes that they might be able to make in the future and what they have learned from the experience.
If you are struggling to accept the way your child is behaving and you think that low self esteem could be responsible for this, remind yourself that it is their behaviour you don’t like, not them as people. Remember too that as children get older their self esteem can dip as they hit puberty.They have the additional worry of coping with mood swings and changes within their body that they may not be entirely happy with.
If you think your child or teen is suffering with low self esteem think about what might have affected your child such as:
- Has there been a recent family trauma?
- Could your child be having problems at school such as bullying etc?
- Is there a new boyfriend/girlfriend on the scene?
- Have you introduced a new partner that your child could be struggling with?
- If you continue to be concerned talk to their teacher as it is always helpful to keep communication lines open with the school and they might be able to shed some light on any problems at school.
As a parent, you have a major part to play in ensuring that your children grown up feeling confident, secure and loved. How you deal with failure and upset will undoubtedly reflect on your own children. Children need to understand that failure is part and parcel of life and that it doesn’t always go according to plan.
We all make mistakes, no one is perfect so showing your child that you can dust yourself down and start again will set a good example and help them to understand that we can learn from mistakes and move forward.
If you do feel a little out of your depth and struggling to know how to help your child build their self esteem (Wikipedia) there are organisations out there that can support both yourself and your teenager. Also, do seek medical guidance and have a chat with your GP about any options that might be available.
Family Lives is always here to support you through difficult times. All our trained support workers are parents so we do understand the stresses and strains of family life. You can live chat or email us.