As parents, we fear the worst for our children. We see an imperfect world, where strangers and circumstances can discourage, frighten, harm, or endanger our little ones. But kids need not be plagued with thoughts of a dangerous world, and parents shouldn’t feel the need to create a protective bubble around them. The best defense is to empower kids with a boost of confidence and how-to-deal skills when facing possible dangers.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is the collection of beliefs or feelings that we have about ourselves, or our ‘self perceptions.’ How we define ourselves influences our motivations, attitudes, and behaviors, and affects our emotional judgment.
Self-esteem includes other qualities, such as self-confidence, pride, independence, self-reliance, and self-respect. Experts say we develop our self-esteem during childhood, and it constantly evolves as we are shaped by the different social interactions and experiences we go through.
Enhancing a child’s self-esteem is the first step to ensuring his or her right to personal safety. Keeping children away from physical harm is only secondary. Programs have been developed to teach children self-protective skills, and families recognize and respond to potentially unsafe situations. Children who are conscious of their self-worth feel good about themselves, pulling out all the stops to any sign of threat or danger. Moreover, self-esteem develops the same positive communication skills and attitudes, which children could pass on to the next generation.
A child’s self-esteem is based on a positive relationship with parents and eventually teachers. Parents can foster that can-do attitude in their children with a “Wow!” or a “That’s great!” every time they accomplish a feat. These positive comments form children’s first concept of success, which ultimately leads to a healthy self-perception.
But praise and positive reinforcement alone will not make children feel better automatically. Providing them with lots of love, care, and understanding is equally significant. Children who are happy and confident may still experience low self-esteem because they do not feel loved. Likewise, children who are loved and pampered at home may still feel inadequate and incompetent, thus ending up with low self-esteem. Hence, a balance of both should be present.
Delivering positive messages and engaging in constructive communication lead to a healthy self-perception. Try these time-tested tips to enhance your child’s can-do attitude.
1. Limit the “Don’ts” to the barest minimum.
State your requests positively. Too many negative words in your sentences will only lead to a child’s self doubt.
2. Let kids complete their sentences.
Avoid interruptions, as these disrupt their train of thought or make them forget what they’re saying. Otherwise, they’ll feel as if their ideas are insignificant and not worth listening to.
3. Establish eye contact.
Be a good model of conversation by giving kids your full attention. This communicates that you are interested in what they are saying, and that you are stressing a noteworthy idea, as well.
4. Take turns in the conversation.
Agree on who speaks first, and who speaks next. It is important for parents to encourage kids to verbalize their ideas and feelings, but to also wait for the go signal to speak. Children should be able to understand that if people talk all at the same time, they will end up understanding nothing.
5. Keep a calm, uncritical, and non-irritable manner when explaining.
Keep your “speech” concise. Use language that kids will easily understand, explaining to them what they need to do, and why they should or should not do it. Speaking in a calm tone also keeps panic from rising within them.
6. Criticisms should still be present.
We should also take notice of shortcomings or misbehavior as we see it or learn about it. Explain why an action is not acceptable, and allow kids to think of ways to avoid doing it again.
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