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How to Build Your Child's Self-Esteem

  • Make a list of your child’s good points to remind yourself and let him know that you appreciate them.
  • Don’t criticise or demand perfection. Correct kindly. Constructive criticism is just as important as praise and if you minimise her failures, she’ll either learn to make excuses for her mistakes or ignore you.
  • Don’t make negative comparisons but use every opportunity to make favourable ones. Be honest and do not patronise.
  • Allow your child to do things for himself - independence and self-confidence are important aspects of self-esteem. Don’t underestimate his abilities.
  • Don’t be afraid to praise. Compliment her on her talents, achievements and efforts. Let her know that she is capable of doing things well, no matter how unimportant or insignificant they seem to you.
  • Your child needs to know that he is loved and valued not for the things he does but just for himself.
  • Show genuine sympathy for her feelings and an interest in things that appeal to her, however trivial you think they are.
  • Don’t take over conversations!
  • Appreciate his individuality and opinions.
  • Allow him to make as many choices of his own as possible - if he wants to wear purple shorts and a red shirt, let him; he is not asking you to wear them!
  • Don’t ever insult her, either in public or in the home. Your child will start to believe that what you say is true, if you do.
  • Don’t confuse character with deed. He must know that you love and respect him as a person, even when you don’t like something he’s done.
  • Encourage her to develop her strengths instead of harping on her weaknesses.
  • Remember that your child is vulnerable and can be hurt. This means recognising when he’s feeling upset, angry or afraid and allowing him to express those feelings, rather than telling him to “be brave”.
  • Your child needs to know that you trust her and believe in her; that means allowing her the freedom to be different from you and respecting those differences.
  • We all make mistakes. Allowing your child to do so teaches significant life skills. We all fail - how we come back from failure is what is important.
  • Unfortunately, encouraging self-esteem is not as easy as it sounds and you may sometimes slip up and say something damaging, when you don’t meant to. A simple “sorry” can usually put things right.
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