A child’s self esteem is pivotal to their happiness and wellbeing.
You will know whether your kids are okay by checking these self esteem symptoms.
All caring parents long to help kids to feel good about themselves.
But doing so is not always easy. And many parents make mistakes.
One big mistake a lot of compassionate parents make is that they give far too much praise in a harried attempt to make their children feel good about themselves. I guess they believe a spoonfull of sugar helps the medicine go down.
To put it bluntly: they’re wrong.
Great parents know that simply lavishing praise on kids will not help them.
So, what actually does help kids with self esteem?
Scientists tell THE DAILY MEDITATION that they key to happy kids is “warm parenting”.
Be a “warm” but honest parent and your kids will have high self esteem
Parenting which is emotionally receptive (warm and caring) helps kids develop self esteem.
But here’s the caveat:
When parents simply lavish praise on kids they actually lower their self esteem.
This news comes to THE DAILY MEDITATION via a new study published by Eddie Brummelman and Sander Thomeas at the University of Amsterdam. (You can read the study here ).
Why some kids like themselves and others don’t
In our article Where Does My Personality Come From we discussed how perceptions and experiences shape a person.
A big part of that personality comes from the way parents treat kids.
As children develop they form a relationship with themselves.
Some kids like themselves. Some kids love themselves (often too much). And some kids, sadly, hate themselves or think lowly of themselves.
It is best for kids to feel positively about themselves and equally positive about other people. Thereby, they avoid both a superiority complex and an inferiority complex and they develop healthy social relationships.
We all need self love, self esteem, and self care.
So why do some kids talk about themselves positively and other kids talk about themselves negatively?
Researcher Brummelman says, “[Our studies] reveal that children form their self-concept, at least in part, based on their social relationships [and especially their relationship to their parents]’.
The research shows that kids have health self esteem when their parents:
- Are warm and caring
- Are interested in their activities
- When they share in their kids’ joy
- When they are not overly praising
- And when they are not overly critical
- Previous research shows that it is important to let kids know that they can develop their skills. This is called the growth mindset. For more tips on this see below.
*Researchers believe that the reason why it is bad to praise kids too much is because kids then become attached to their successes. If they do well in one school test and get praised for it, they feel pressured to perform well again.
So how can you help your kids to have healthy levels of self esteem?
10 Ways To Make Kids Feel Good About Themselves
Take a look at these 10 crucial steps for building self esteem. These are my go-tos.
The following 10 tips use the Growth Mindset to help kids feel good about themselves.
Make use of these 10 scientifically-proven tips to make kids feel good about themselves.
1. Be warm and caring
You’re a caring parent. But are you certain you show your warmth and care in the right way?
Take some time right now to share one loving message with your kids.
You can speak to them, message them, or communicate however you like. But take a moment right now to share one loving message with your kids. Start with “I feel proud of you because… […]”
2. Share their activities
Good parents know that it is important for kids to participate in a wide-range of activities. (Read: 9 Surprising Reasons Hobbies Are Important)
Great parents actually get involved in their kids’ activities.
So here’s a great exercise:
- Choose one of your kids’ favorite activities
- Choose one way in which you can be involved with that activity (something both you and they will like).
- Commit to it (for instance, if you’ve chosen that the best thing would be to go to an event together, book the tickets right now so that it is set in stone).
3. Good parents share their kids’ joy
It is vital that we share our kids’ joy, and even in ways that we might not usually appreciate.
Your kid gets a high score in a video game. They’re happy. But you remind them that it’s just a game and that their grades are slipping. Bad idea. You’ve robbed them of their joy.
And now they feel animosity towards you.
Your kid gets a high score in a game. They feel great. You share their joy with them. You then casually tell them that you recognise their skills. Then, you use those skills to suggest what else they might be good at, and why they might like to try it.
Here’s how to do it:
- Choose one kind of joy your kids felt that you did not share with them
- Come up with a way to share that joy
- Share the joy, and steer it in a positive direction.
- Example: Your kids get a good score in a football management game on the PS4. You suggest they get involved with managing the school football team).
4. Don’t praise kids too much
You’re a loving, caring parent. Naturally you want your kids to feel good about themselves. So you keep telling them how amazing they are.
It’s an innocent enough mistake.
But it is a costly mistake, too (see the above section titled “Be a warm but honest parent…”)
Smart parents give only a healthy amount of praise, no more.
If you’ve made a big deal of the 100th “A”-grade your kids’ gotten in the past year, it might be time to stop and give praise elsewhere. Try instead to praise them for something that they worked hard but didn’t get the intended result. That way you’re praising hard work and you’re motivating them to do new things.
5. Stop being overly critical
If you talk negatively to yourself you will probably talk negatively to your kids.
Take a look at this guide to stopping negative self talk.
This is vital.
If it is bad to be too praising, it is worse to be too critical. If you keep slamming your kid with criticism they’ll pretty soon give up entirely.
Of course, objective criticism is helpful. Just make sure you’re only giving selective criticism and in a constructive manner.
6. Teach the “growth mindset”
A “mindset” is a way of looking at the world or at ourselves. Some people have a “fixed mindset” which means they believe that they are who they are and they cannot change.
Healthy kids have a “growth mindset”. They believe they have the power to change and to improve.
One of the best ways to boost a child’s self esteem is to teach this growth mindset.
- Explain to your kids that the brain is like a muscle that grows stronger with exercise
- Replace fixed words with growth words. For instance, don’t say “You’re talented” because that is set in stone. It’s finite. It’s fixed. Instead say, “You are growing strong”. This emphasises the fact that they are growing and changing while also giving a positive statement.
- Reward the process, not results: Do not focus on the result. Instead, praise hard work, creativity and other processes.
- Teach that failure is opportunity: What is one failure your kids recently experienced? Teach them that that failure is a lesson to learn from and a way to improve.
7. Teach kids to be objective in self analysis (why did I get a bad grade? How can I improve?)
One of the most important aspects of self esteem is the way kids relate to themselves. And this is largely based on self analysis.
The best self analysis is based on objective criticism and objective appraisal of the situation.
Here’s how to teach this mindset:
- Pick one school test (or similar area) that your kid did not succeed in.
- Bring up the subject with them.
- Remind them that this test is not a reflection of them, it is just a one-off event.
- Discuss objective reasons why they did not succeed.
- Remind them about the growth mindset. Remind them that they can grow stronger and succeed next time.
- Discuss ways they can improve in the future.
These 7 tips for self esteem help kids to feel good about themselves.
Which of these tips do you find most useful? And what other strategies do you personally use to give your kids good self esteem?
Write a comment.