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How to Increase Your Child’s Self-Esteem

How to Increase Your Child’s Self-Esteem

“You look so pretty in that new dress.”

“Wow you really landed that shot.”

“An A+, I’m so proud of you.”

A lot of parents invest an inordinate amount of money buying designer clothes, colored hair streaks, fake nails, and the latest athletic shoes. Others coach, encourage, support with hours on the bench watching, or astronomical amounts of money on the best bat, glove, shoes, etc. Academically parents spend more time on encouraging homework than they might just being with their child in a fun loving way.

So what’s wrong with that? Nothing. But don’t expect any of that to help bolster your child’s self- esteem. It won’t. All of those accomplishments are fleeting and their good feelings only last until the next challenge or competition. Children can deflate faster than a pricked balloon when a classmate says, “That top is so yesterday!”

Or “Yeah, you made the shot, but can you back it up and do it again?” And the next test is always that . . . another test.

Real self-esteem doesn’t come from how we look, how we dress, how well we do in competition, or on test scores.

Real self-esteem comes from WHO WE ARE.  We are never the best dressed always, the best athlete or student all the time. Someone is always going to be prettier, faster or smarter.

So how do we build real self-esteem in our children?

We start by praising them more for who they are than what they accomplish.

Encourage your children to do things for others, especially older folks. Older folks are not wowed by the latest style, but if your child bakes cookies for the neighbor, rakes their yard, or takes them their newspaper the praise will be real.

I was once asked by a television station to comment on a new school program where senior girls painted the nails of middle school children. Didn’t I think the middle school girls would have increased self -esteem? My comments were left in the cutting room floor. I told them the children with the increased self-esteem would be the children who painted the nails and saw the delighted looks on the younger girls faces.  The nail polish on the younger girls will chip and be gone in a week, but the feeling of doing something for the younger girls to help them feel better about themselves may have a lasting impact.

Spend time with your children thinking of ways to do random acts of kindness, anonymous good deeds and paying it forward.

Spend some money buying cookie dough, flowers and pots to leave on elderly folk’s porches anonymously, or paying for the toll behind you so the children can watch for the next driver’s expression.

Those impressions last a lifetime and build a character your child will be truly proud of. That is self- esteem.

Get Creative.  What kind of project can you think of that will be a random act of kindness your child can do?

By: Deborah M. Maxey PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

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