We live in a society where the word "entitlement" is thrown around a lot. It refers to kids who need participation trophies and teenagers who expect their parents to upgrade them every time there is a new iPhone on the market. Parents have become so fearful of raising entitled children that they sometimes hold back praise which can have an effect on a child's self-esteem. Thankfully, there are some ways to make your child feel confident, but not entitled.
According to Ask Dr. Sears, self-esteem is the foundation of a child’s well-being and the key to success as an adult. Sears refers to self-esteem as "your child’s passport to a lifetime of mental health and social happiness." It's a pretty big deal. People who feel good about themselves tend to get along better with others and work harder, whereas kids who have low self-esteem can be moody, volatile, and give up more easily. Think back to those days when your teacher praised your work or your mom and dad hung that A+ on the fridge. Those scenarios made you feel confident, and positively affected your future performance. But because you earned those grades, you didn't feel entitled. This is the balance parents are seeking.
Here are some ways that you can help your child's confidence grow without making them feel entitled.
Whether it's trains, horses, or Minecraft, kids go through phases where they obsess over one thing. And kids who have an interest in something want to share their knowledge. So, if you show interest in their hobbies and allow them to widen their expertise, Parents noted that they are more likely to be confident and successful in other areas of their life.
According to Ask Dr. Sears, playing with your children sends the message that they are worthy of your time and are valuable. Your children become more confident when you focus your attention on them during play. This doesn't mean that you have to spend all day entertaining your kid. They will also learn a valuable lesson when you set a specific amount of time to play with them, and let them choose to continue to play on their own or choose a different activity when you have to move on to another task.
Kids become more confident when they feel as though they have choices. The aforementioned Parents article noted that kids who are allowed to make decisions become confident in their own good judgment. By giving them options, you allow them to make a decision that fall within acceptable parameters.
Your child may have a hidden skill or talent that they don't recognize. You should encourage this talent. But, Sears warned that there's a delicate balance between pushing and protecting. You want to make sure that your children know that you believe in them, but don't encourage highly unrealistic expectations.
Kids who have household duties tend to be more confident because their skills are valuable. They know that you depend on them to take out the trash and unload the dishes, and it gives them self-worth. There is much debate on whether or not you should pay your kids to do chores. In my home, chores are the way each person pitches in to make the household better. Mom doesn't get paid to do the laundry and Dad doesn't get paid to mow the lawn, so our kids don't get paid to clean their rooms or walk the dogs. In the same respect,Today suggested that parents should instead call chores "family contributions" because kids are part of the family and everyone’s contributions matter.
Instead of stuffing down their feelings, kids should be able to talk about them. Sears noted that confident kids know how to express their feelings without exploding. Teach your child when it is appropriate to become emotional and at which times they should hold back until they are in a more private setting. Always let your kids know that they can come to you whenever they need to talk or have a problem.
Kids whose parents set high, but realistic expectations tend meet those expectations. If you are confident that they can achieve a goal, they will gain confidence, as well. But, don't wait until they are teenagers to set your expectations. Even toddlers can understand what is expected of them.