Developing Self-Esteem in Young Children

From The Whole Child by PBS.

Developing in your children a positive sense of self-worth is one of your greatest responsibilities and biggest challenges.

Children who have self-confidence have a feeling of internal worth that enables them to welcome challenges and work cooperatively with others. When children don't develop self-confidence, they tend to focus on failure instead of success, problems instead of challenges, and difficulties instead of possibilities. There is no single way to enhance self-esteem, but one way is to show children "unconditional positive regard." Let your children know that you care about them, accept them, and approve of them, no matter what. Your challenge is to accept your child as a person, even when you do not accept his behavior.

Honest recognition and sincere praise come from the heart and draw attention to something specific the child has done. Praise is an external source of esteem, which is helpful but not nearly as valuable and effective as internal sources that come from a sense of competence.

Showing respect for your children also reinforce your child's self-worth. You can offer them choices when appropriate, then respect and abide by their decisions. Showing confidence in your child's ability to make decisions helps build his self-esteem. Another way to show respect towards children is to explain the reasons behind the rules or adult decisions.

The most effective thing you can do to help your children feel a sense of self-worth is to help them achieve competence or an internal feeling of mastery or control. Encourage your children to make their own choices and be as independent as possible. Provide many different activities for them to allow them to explore and develop skills. Creative activities allow children to express their ideas and feelings. Group activities allow children to learn to play and interact with other children.

Children should have sufficient freedom to select the activities they want to participate in, rather than being forced by their parents. You should recognize and praise your child's effort rather than the result. Best is to encourage them to develop a sense of curiosity and have fun in exploring it.

Don't let your child's ego grow too big. Parents can only teach their children how to behave successfully only if their own behaviors are consistent and do not contradicts them.

Somewhat related: A Mother’s Wishes of Her Children - Satisfaction.


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