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agree that building a child’s self-esteem is one important way to lay a healthy foundation for
a happy and productive future. But what exactly is self-esteem, and how do you
help your child develop it? What psychologists call self esteem is a combination
of self-confidence and self respect.
to leading child development experts, two ingredients are essential to
developing self-esteem: freedom and encouragement. A child who is free to
experiment, to fail, and to try again develops a sense of her own
accomplishments. If a parent gives too much help, the child does not get to “own” that sense of accomplishment.
she may lose her sense of curiosity and become passive. When creating a
nurturing environment for your children, keep in mind that they are not simply
little adults. Children tend to be impulsive and self-centered and to think in
you expect them to think or behave like adults, you will be setting them up to
fail. In their guide for parents and teachers, Self-Esteem for Tots to Teens, educators Eugene Anderson, George Redman, and Charlotte Rogers
offer these five
principles for building self-esteem in children:
and acknowledge your child’s
thoughts and feelings. By giving your child your full attention when she talks
and then paraphrasing her thoughts, you show her that she counts.
situations that help your child experience success, not failure. Set clear and
appropriate expectations, offer a reasonable amount of help, provide adequate
incentives, and remove obstacles.
child a feeling of reasonable control over his life. Having too little control
over his environment can make your child feel inadequate; having too much
control can make him feel neglected and insecure.
that your child is lovable and capable. Praise her for what she does, reward her
successes, and tell her you are proud of her.
child that you have a positive view of yourself. Children can “catch” self-esteem from adults. Let your child hear you talk about
yourself in positive terms. Let them see you react to circumstances in your life
in a positive way.