As a therapist and a parent I know how difficult it can be to watch our children struggle with feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. As parents we want our children to know that they are special and important, but sometimes, despite our best efforts – our children do not always feel as though they measure up to their peers.
Naturally, parents worry about the long term consequences of low self-esteem, and research suggests they may be right to be concerned. Experts say that teens with low self-esteem tend to have poorer mental and physical health as youth, and face a host of economic troubles as adults, when compared to teens with average to high self-esteem.
So, what can you do to help raise your child’s self-esteem while they are still young?
1. Let your child take risks and problem solve on their own: It can be tempting for parents to make things easy for their children – but research has proven that children and teens who are allowed to take risks, problem solve independently and even fail from time to time, are ultimately better at recognizing their own strengths and accomplishments.
2. Let your children help around the house: By providing age appropriate household tasks for your children to complete, you are providing them with an opportunity to showcase their skills and to feel like they are contributing in a meaningful way.
3. Don’t over praise your children: While praising a child with low self-esteem may feel like the natural solution – in reality over praising can have the opposite effect. While it is important to let our children know that we are proud of them, we need to ensure that we are not over praising them. Over praising can sometimes cause children to feel as though they must be perfect all the time – in order to continuously be good enough to earn our praise.
4. Criticize the action – not the person: Instead of saying to your child “you are so bad!” try to take an approach that focuses less on the person and more on the action, for example “you are a good child, but I’m disappointed by that choice.”
5. Remember your own influence: Despite outside pressures from peers and the media, parents still have a large impact on their child’s self-esteem. By learning how to use your influence in your child’s life constructively, you can set them up to become responsible, confident adults.
If you would like to learn more about how to raise your child’s self-esteem, please feel free to contact me.