Self esteem can be a tricky one in children. With social media and mobile devices so prevalent there are so many opportunities for children to compare their lives to others’ – friends and people they’ve never even met – and find their own lacking. It’s important that we as parents take the initiative to bolster their sense of self worth so that when the comparisons come up, they are strong enough in themselves to feel that they’re just fine as they are.
Here are some tips for nurturing children’s self esteem:
- Focus on a growth mindset. I wrote a post about growth mindset a while ago; basically it’s about praising a child’s work and effort rather than the results – so “you tried so hard; I’m so proud of you” rather than “it’s a great picture, well done!” This helps children (and adults!) to feel that they are capable of improving their skills, rather than having a fixed ability in any particular area.
- Provide a secure attachment. As parents, it’s our job to love our children no matter what – which we do, but we also need to make sure they know it. This is one of those moments where actions speak louder than words, and it can take a lot of practice to get to a point where you can respond with love to everything they throw at you. Responding with love means not screaming at them when they come to you to tell you they’ve been drawing on the floor and accidentally marked the carpet – and saying Thank you for being truthful; do you think this was a good place to do your drawing instead.
- Encourage an individual sense of style. Encouraging children to choose their own clothes and put together their own outfits whenever possible (with the occasional suggestion of a coat or more sensible footwear where needed) is great for building their confidence in their own sense of style. Likewise, encouraging children to think about what they like and don’t like in clothing independently of anyone else’s opinion is a great way to ensure they have a strong sense of their own opinion and preferences. Looking at kids designer wear from Strawberry Children is great for this because there are so many different styles available. If children have a firm sense of what they like and don’t like, they will be less likely to be swayed by the latest fashion – and to feel that they’re not good enough because they don’t have the right type of outfit.
- Encourage independence. It is so tempting as a parent to step in and “help” children for the sake of speed or because we like things done a particular way. It can be really helpful for us to take a deep breath and a step back and let them just get on with it. So what if they wear odd socks and it takes them an hour to put them on – if they did it themselves, they will be pleased with that. And so what if they cover the kitchen in butter and jam, if they manage to make their own lunch. These things can be cleaned up later, and that independence and self sufficiency is something they will carry into all areas of their lives going forward.