I’ve seen it time and time again. A desperate parent tells me that they don’t understand why their child is struggling with low self-esteem. This is despite the fact that they are able to name many wonderful things about their child and are constantly showering their child with praise.
Here’s the trouble: praising a child regularly and in non-specific ways simply does not lead to children who are more secure and self-assured. In actuality, a child who is often praised may become dependent on others’ evaluations of them as evidence of their value. In some cases, they may feel like a complete imposter— as if others are misjudging their ability.
7 Better Ways to Bolster Your Child’s Self-Esteem:
- Be sincere with praise. When you do praise, hand it out sparingly and honestly and focus on effort (think process, not product). This will give it more meaning in the child’s eyes.
- Assign household tasks and chores. By doing so, the message you give is “we trust you to do important tasks and you have a crucial role in the functioning of the family.”
- Allow for child-directed time. If screens are turned off and a child is given free time with regularity, the child will naturally work on gaining or proving mastery over a challenging situation.
- Include them in family decisions. Ask them for their opinion when it’s age-appropriate, such as which of the two dinner options they suggest or which curtains they prefer for the living room. They’ll appreciate that their opinion is valued.
- Avoid comparing to others. Drawing comparisons between your child and their peers, siblings and anyone for that matter is a delicate matter that sets them up to feel as though they are valued only when better than others. It’s better to teach them to use themselves as the baseline comparison.
- Be constructive. If your child does something you don’t like, avoid focusing on the negative and, instead, simply tell them what you would like them to do instead next time.
- Encourage interests. Seeking out opportunities to cultivate your child’s talents and interests demonstrates to them that their uniqueness is important and allows for them to further develop competencies.
At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. If you think you need some extra support, call us. We offer parent groups and other supportive services. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Written By: Brandy Baker, PsyD