The world can be a cruel place, able to break down your self-esteem and self-worth in an instant. This can be especially true for children, who are still developing their sense of selves. As parents, our goal is often to help our children feel good about themselves. In order to equip them with self-worth and the ability to withstand the harsh reality of the outside world, the work of building them up begins in our homes. But where is the line between boost children’s self-esteem and making them think they’re the best thing since sliced bread?
Building your child’s confidence doesn’t have to mean filling them with empty praise and giving them an unnecessarily large ego. It can be as simple as doing small gestures and offering positive feedback that allows them to feel empowered and worthy. It can be about helping them feel validated, normal, and perfectly OK the way they are. And these are things you can build into the fabric of your parenting, so that they become second nature and just part of raising a confident, well-adjusted kid.
Since the building blocks of healthy self-esteem begin at home, here are some ways that you can help your child improve their self-worth. When kids feel good about who they are, they may be less likely to seek validation and approval from less healthy places and people.
Letting your kid make decisions, even simple ones like choosing between the blue shirt and the green shirt, can empower them. It shows that you trust them and helps them learn to trust themselves, too.
Instead of saying, “You’re fine” when your child expresses dismay at something, even if that thing seems trivial, try saying, “I know it’s hard to feel sad.” This lets them know that their feelings are valid and helps them believe that they are OK and not broken.
Telling your kid that they’re the best baseball player that ever lived is setting them up for failure and a huge letdown when reality sets in. But telling them that they did a great job making that play at first base makes them feel just as good, while also being true.
Try asking your child for help with small tasks around the house, or with carrying something light to the car. This shows them that you are confident in their abilities, which will make them feel confident, too.
Don’t always swoop in to do things for them; let them do it themselves. Whether it’s plateing their own food or tying their own shoes, doing things on their own can help them feel capable.
Letting your child know that you love them whether they win or lose, spill a drink or clean their plate, get an A or an F can do wonders for a child’s self-esteem. It sends them the message that they are good enough just the way they are.