Praise. Giving praise to a child is one of the best things that a parent can do for that child. Praise children when they do well and praise them when they try their best.
Self-esteem in children is a serious issue, whatever self-esteem they have in school can be carried with them throughout their adult life…and everyone wants to feel good about themselves.
Giving praise can be hard for some people, especially people who may not recieve it much themselves. Practice it and as time goes on it will become easier to give to children and will start to come naturally.
1. Vary the praise given: always hearing “good” is not enough. Grab a thesaurus and look up the different words that still mean “good.” Switch it up and make praise funky and fresh.
2. Show enthusiasm: a “way to go” means nothing if the parent is reading the newspaper and not even looking at a child. Look them in the eye, touch a shoulder, use voice inflection to show pride.
3. Display homework: homework and report cards can be displayed on a wall, bulletin board, the refrigerator. Showing off a child’s work will show them a parent is proud.
4. Listen to their needs: listening to a child is perhaps the best, and hardest, thing that a parent can do. If they express something they dislike about themselves ask how they want to change it. Maybe they want a new haircut or different style clothes. Try to adapt to their needs without spoiling by giving them everything they want or breaking the budget. Listen to what they have to say and show interest. Listen to their worries, fears, likes, dislikes, and anything else they may have to say.
5. Talk about them: children hearing a parent bragging to friends and family about how well they are doing, how proud they are, how smart they are, or the creative project they did. Knowing that a parent is proud of them and hearing parents tell others is a great way for a child’s self-esteem to get boosted.
6. Avoid yells, threats, and unusual punishments: yelling at anyone will knock down their self-esteem in a big way. Parents do get angry and children do some dumb things. But, speak calmly and rationally. Do not issue threats that cannot carry out or unrealistic threats. Punishments and discipline are a necessary evil but they need to fit the crime and not be done with violence, or unusual and cruel punishments. A child’s basic needs must always be met, but the “fun extras” can be taken away such as TV, computers, playtime, etc.
7. Hugs: a hug for no reason will make anyone happy. Children need affection and need to know they are loved. Hug them, play with them, a touch on the shoulder or a pat on the back can be very beneficial.
8. No insults: no adult wants to be insulted and children do not want to hear insults either. Telling a child they are fat, lazy, stupid is a sure way to decrease their self-esteem. Use positive words instead. If a child is overweight explain to them that their health is in question and their diet needs to change rather than say “you’re fat.” Try saying “I am concerned about you being overweight and we are going to work on your diet and find healthy snacks to eat.”
9. Avoid the word “No”: it is estimated that by the time a child is 5 years old they have heard the word “no” 40,000 times. Of course, it is necessary to tell a child “no” but try to limit it and try to vary the phrase. For example, instead of saying “don’t run in the house” turn it into what you want them to do instead “please walk in the house.”
10. Manners: we, as parents, expect children to use manners but unless taught, they will not know what that means. Teach them manners and use them when speaking to a child. Tell them “thank you” and “you’re welcome.” A parent can apologize to their child if they have done wrong. Teach by example.