Building self-esteem is one of the most important things that parents can do for their children, even when we aren’t currently faced with social distancing, school closures, and virtual learning. How exactly do we build our children into confident little (or big) people?
Self-esteem grows when children feel accepted and when they feel successful. Follow these simple strategies and watch your children become more confident in themselves.
- Model confidence: Kids learn a lot by watching others. Model the behaviors you want your children to have. Make positive comments about yourself in front of your child and build yourself up.
- Give specific praise: Yes, saying “Great job!” is praise, but try to be more detailed. If your child does an exceptional job at cleaning up his/her room, tell them “Look at your room. You put all of the toys in the toy basket, and put all of your laundry in the dresser. It looks really nice. Keep up the good work.” While your child did do a “great job” at the task, the second form of praise is more specific and allows for your child to know exactly what he/she did that was good.
- Create a wall of fame: Let your child know that his/her schoolwork, artwork, and portraits are valued by displaying them in the house for all to see.
- Allow kids to fail: As parents, we want our kids to succeed in everything they do; however, allowing kids to fail builds perseverance. Life isn’t always easy, so letting your children struggle and fail at a task will teach them to try harder and keep at it until they succeed.
- Ask for advice/opinions: Asking your kids for their advice or opinions on a topic will show them that you listen to them and that their thoughts matter.
- Maintain social connections: This is a tough one, considering the pandemic; however, with today’s technology and yesterday’s pen and paper, it can be done. Arrange for times to video chat with family and friends. Write and mail letters to loved ones. Utilize social media messaging apps that are age appropriate. Staying connected helps kids feel loved and supported.
- Spend time together: You are probably asking yourself, “How can we spend more time together? My kids are at home with me 24/7.” While kids are spending a lot of time at home, this is usually centered around education, chores, and meals. Set aside time that allows for your child to choose what activities they want to do. Children can choose games and teach parents how to play. For older kids, this might include parents and children playing an Xbox game together or a phone app game, or even going outside and playing sports. This will let your kids know that you are interested in what they like.
- Express feelings: Teach your child to be self-aware and understand his/her feelings. An easy technique to use is HALT. If your child is starting to feel upset, encourage them to use HALT by asking these questions: Am I Hungry? Am I Angry? Am I Lonely? Am I Tired? This helps teach them to be aware of what they are feeling and understanding where those feelings are coming from and how to alleviate negative feelings.
These are just a few strategies in building your child’s confidence. You know your child best, so figure out what will work for him or her. Give your kids a hug and let them know that they are growing into the best person they can be, and you as their parent will be there every step of the way.
Parents, remember that you are not in this alone. Seek help, take care of yourself, and find ways to make this new learning experience work for you and your family. Reach out to available resources if needed (Behavioral Programs, EFMP, MFLC, Military OneSource, School Liaison).