Self esteem is vital to our development in order to feel confident, healthy, and successful in life.
Having a healthy and secure attachment to a caregiver from birth to two years is critical. According to research by psychologist Eric Erickson, a loving, caring, and attentive caregiver can help create a trusting relationship with a child. These are the building blocks for the child’s perspective of the world in terms of having a healthy bond and a secure relationship instead of insecure.
Trustworthy and secure relationships extend to how our parent also mirrored us. Mirroring is the way they smiled, said positive words, kissed us, hugged us, praised our accomplishments no matter how small, and helped us believe that we are worthy and special.
Parenting is a key role that impacts a child’s self esteem. If our parents were too strict and very militant this can make a child feel afraid of the parent and they may not want to make a mistake or share feelings. If a parent is too permissive and wants to be a friend and not guide a child, then he or she might not respect authority.
If a parent implements rules that are age-appropriate with love, then a child feels safe and can talk to their parent in a healthy way. Loving a child and offering choices are important parts of parenting. Loving unconditionally is the key to success.
What are some ways to help build a child’s self esteem?
- Try not to criticize your child if they do something wrong by putting them down. Use constructive criticism instead of destructive criticism, i.e. If a child spills their milk, a parent might say “Oh you accidently spilled your milk,” instead of saying, “ You are so clumsy.”
- Spend time playing together such as a fun time in the park, a board game, a hike, etc.
- Instead of always talking, learn to be a good listener.
- Reward your child. Give stickers, verbal praise or hi-fives for helping at home, school success, babysitting, good manners, listening, being kind, sports, and anything they do that is positive.
- Talk about a time when you as a parent you made a mistake or poor choice growing up. This is important so your child can come to you and share their mistake. You must help them learn to problem solve.
- When you give a “time out” or a discipline your child, do not attack their character. Talk about the behavior such as not listening, hurting a sibling, not turning in their work etc.
- Put their art work on the walls or anything they do well in as a reminder that you are very proud of them.
- Stop nagging, instead have a white board that is a schedule for chores or assignments as a reminder to look at and check off.
- Invite their friends over so you get to know who they are playing with and the influence they have on them.
- Encourage your child to feel comfortable opening up and discussing things with you, by listening instead of judging.
- Allow your child to learn from valuable lessons. Read books to them that contain life lessons and family values.
All parents make mistakes if they are stressed out. Apologize to your child if you lost your temper and try some of these helpful suggestions to create a home environment that is kind, loving, secure, honest, and supportive. Good Luck!