Building our childrens self esteem is one of our key responsibilities as parents. Self-esteem comes from the belief that we are accepted and loved and that we are strong and capable individuals. Our job is to ensure that our children become confident and responsible adults. When we believe in our children, our children will believe in themselves. This sounds easy enough. Or is it?
To build self-esteem, parents need to realise that there is a difference between praise and encouragement.
Constant praise teaches our children to please others. Over-praising may lead to a feeling of failure or inadequacy. When they do not receive praise, they may begin to doubt themselves.
“If you keep telling your child she is already doing a fantastic job, you’re saying she no longer needs to push herself” says Jim Taylor, author of Your Kids Are Listening: Nine Messages They Need to Hear from You.
“But confidence comes from doing, from trying and failing and trying again—from practise.” He continues to say that many parents have it backwards. “They think struggles and failure will hurt their kids’ self-esteem, but it’s actually a golden opportunity to help build it.”
Children need to know that they do not have to be perfect to be loved and accepted.
Children who are encouraged feel appreciated just as they are. We need to support our children’s efforts and show them that we have faith in them. This will teach them to appreciate their own abilities and qualities. Encouraged children will feel capable and worthwhile.
According to The Parent’s Handbook (Don C. Dinkmeyer Sr.
, Don Dinkmeyer Jr.
, Gary D. McKay
), encouragement has its own language. Here are words that encourage:
- “Thanks. That was a big help.”
- “I trust your judgement.”
- “That’s a tough one, but I think you can work it out.”
- “You worked hard on that!”
- “You’re getting better at fractions all the time.”
- “You can do it.”
A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water