By Angelica Shiels Psy.D. (Article also featured on Lifehack)
Healthy self-esteem is something that most parents strive to instill in their children. Having “healthy self-esteem” means being able to acknowledge both the positive and the negative aspects of one’s self without feeling either superior or inferior. This trait has been linked to better outcomes in relationships, career, and general well-being. So how can parents help their children achieve healthy self-esteem? Here are 15 free and simple ways.
1. Make eye contact and smile when your child walks into the room.
Show your child that his or her presence is meaningful and enjoyable to you.
2. Praise her specific efforts and attempts instead of giving her constant general praise.
Tell her that you are proud that she ran every morning that seasons instead of only focusing on the fact that she got first place in the race or telling her she did a “great job.”
3. Listen to your child.
Consider your child’s thoughts and perspectives to be valuable, even and especially when you disagree.
4. Give her some undivided attention each day.
Your child is valuable to you, and time with her should be prioritized and enjoyed.
5. Give your child age-appropriate jobs/responsibilities.
Your kid is a necessary part of the family.
6. Empathize with you child when he or she is angry or sad.
Have empathy even and especially when she doesn’t get her way.
7. Always let your child know that it makes perfect sense that she feels the way she feels.
In other words, validate her feelings instead of trying to tell her she shouldn’t feel that way.
8. When discipline is necessary, lead and conclude with the lesson behind the discipline, not anger and punishment.
Explain to your child why telling the truth is very, very important, and that the consequences he or she experienced are not to punish him or her but to help him or her to remember not to lie.
9. Don’t solve your child’s problems for him or her.
Get in the habit of asking your child what his or her suggestions are for dealing with disappointments and problem-solving. Offer your ideas as a consultant, not a rescuer. Your kid does not immediately need a rescuer; It has good thoughts of its own.
10. Let your child fail and let it get back up.
When your child loses her earbuds, he or she can handle earning money for new ones instead of having you replace them. Your child can handle going to summer school to make up the grade instead of you calling the teacher to make an arrangement to bring the grades up.
11. After your child disappoints, acts out, or makes a mistake, discipline and each, and then let it go.
Offer criticism, redirection, and consequences with a matter-of-fact tone. Discipline is for teaching, not for demonstrating disdain, dispelling frustration, and holding grudges.
12. Meet your child where it’s at without making him or her feel like an idiot.
If your kid struggles with staying on task while cleaning his or her room, calmly make a chart. If your child struggles with simple division, but the rest of the class is on long-division, patiently break out the flash-cards.
13.Hear your child out and give him or her the benefit of the doubt.
If your child is caught smoking at school, instead of treating him or her like a disrespectful sociopath, allow him or her to remind you of what it was like to just want to fit in and be accepted (before providing discipline.)
14. Share stories about when you were younger and you made mistakes.
Your child is not a terrible person for taking a quarter out of Mom’s purse; It just needs to be taught the lesson, the same way Mom was taught when she was young.
15. Say “I’m sorry,” when you make mistakes or lose your cool.
“Imperfection” is okay for parents and it’s okay for your child, too.