Originally Posted on February 12, 2012
Developing your Child’s Self-Esteem
Part 2 of 3 part Blog Series
Last week we reviewed a list of things to watch for in your children which may identify low or high self-esteem in them.
This week we will focus on how to promote high-self esteem or self-worth in your child.
First and most importantly, make sure that you always speak positively to your child. Even if their behavior is not pleasing. Sometimes parents are first and often too quick to express negative feelings to their children, and often times do not speak the positive things. So as the Word of God says, speak those things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17, King James Version), positive affirmations.
To put it simply, your children do not know if or when you feel good about them and thier actions if you do not express or convey your thoughts to them. As such, that is something they NEED to hear on a regular basis. Believe it! This will make a world of difference in the way they view themselves. As they will, more often then not, remember the positive things you say versus the negative, if you are more generous with praise or positive reenforcement, versus only pointing out the negative things they do. In all certainty, our children will often store up your comments, whether they are negative or positive and will “replay” your statements to themselves. So as their primary caregiver and teacher, it is your responsibility to practice giving your child words of encouragement throughout each day. It will make a world of difference in the way they see themselves.
How to go about speaking positive to your child.
As stated earlier, make sure that you are generous with your words of encouragement or praise. You can use what is called “descriptive praise.” This will allow your child to immediately know when they are doing something well. This will take a little work on your part, because you will have to become in the habit of “looking” for situations where your child is doing well at a certain task or displaying a certain talent. So when your child completes a task or chore, it might be a good idea to say to them, “I really like the way you went about cleaning your room, it looks like you found a good place for everything and put everything in its place!” or if you see a certain notable talent being displayed, you can say, “oh you are so talented” or “wow, that last piece you played was wonderful.., you are really talented.” what even goes farther is when you praise them in front of their friends or other family members. The same can be said for pointing out positive character traits such as, “You are such a kind person.” or “I like your determination, even when things seem hard, you don’t give up! That is fantastic!”
You can even go a step further by teaching your child to speak positively by making his or her own positive self-statements. I learned in the military a long time ago that negative thoughts and talk is often self-defeating. It is the main cursor in depression and anxiety. As I stated last week, the way we think about our selves determines how we feel about our selves and the way we feel about ourselves will determine the way we behave.
Here are some good examples of positive self affirmations: “I can do this, if I just keep on trying!” or “oh well, I or we lost, it’s not the end of the world. We can always try again next time” or, “So what, they didn’t thank me, I didn’t do it to get thanks. It still feels good to help others…”
Conversely, times will come when you must criticize your child’s actions. Just be sure to avoid criticism that evokes ridicule or shame. It’s extremely important to use “I” statements rather than “You” statements when giving your child criticism. For example you could say, “I would really appreciate it if you would put your clothes where they go in your room instead of on the floor” instead of saying “you are so lazy!”
Good communication is paramount in all aspects of life, one that we must practice daily.
Next week I will provide additional guidance on helping to promote positive self-image in your children. Until then, I would love to know your thoughts…or experiences regarding this topic.