Self-esteem is manifested in many different ways and no one in the world shows self-confidence in all situations, all the time. Having said that however, all parents would like their child to be a self-confident individual as opposed to a self-doubting, fearful individual who is afraid to act for fear of failure and is dependent upon others for approval. The latter tend to suffer from problems of low self-esteem and depression, and an inability to cope effectively with the problems of daily life.
Self-confident children are willing to take risks and challenge themselves and have the ability to dream big dreams, follow through and to meet all obstacles with courage.
What are the ways in which we can help our children become more self-confident? As with all else the best time to start is at infancy, but its never too late to begin –
- When reprimanding a child make a distinction between the child and the behaviour. A child is not bad or clumsy or stupid, the behaviour at a particular time is bad, clumsy or thoughtless. Don’t tell the child he or she is good only when the behaviour is good – the child will believe that he is worthy only when he pleases his parent (or any other authority figure in his life).
- Acknowledge and praise freely and don’t let older people talk you out of it on the grounds that you will spoil the child. You will spoil the child only when your praise is not for an actual achievement – acknowledging honestly an achievement of the child only raises self-confidence.
- Don’t let the others in the family thoughtlessly comment on his laziness/ clumsiness / black colour / etc. If you can’t stop them, let your child know that in your eyes he’s still wonderful.
- Don’t nag the child.
- Don’t evaluate the child’s worth only on his academic performance. Every child has different abilities.
- Don’t club children together – they are all individuals with individual natures and likes and dislikes. Don’t compare your children to anyone. Don’t allow others to either.
- Give your children responsibility according to age. If you try and do everything for a child the child begins to doubt his own competence. If they fail, it doesn’t matter, the important thing is that they tried.
- Don’t criticize your children to others or complain about them in front of others.
- Play with them – physical contact is essential for making a child feel loved and worthwhile and consequently self-confident.
- Encourage children to stretch their capabilities and accept challenges. Don’t encourage them to always opt for safety and comfort – the real, world that they will grow into, will not be so protective.
- Encourage a positive approach to life not complaints and hopeless or pessimistic view of life.
- Don’t allow your children to put themselves down.
- Make it clear that your love and approval are not conditional on good grades, good behaviour or any other external consideration.
- Teach the child to consider failure as a part of life rather than an end to it.
- Encourage your children to be able to spend time comfortably with themselves and not be dependent upon others or TV to entertain them always.
- Teach children to assess them own mistake rather than blame others.
- Encourage tolerance and don’t teach or allow them to become hating individuals.
- Be involved in their lives, take time out for them, read to them, encourage their friends to visit. If they feel loved they will be confident.
- Be a good role model – confident, self respecting, responsible and positive. Look after yourself – your children will learn to value themselves and take care of themselves.