WHAT IS SELF-ESTEEM?
It’s how children see themselves. If children have high self-esteem, it doesn’t mean they’re "stuck-up." It means they respect themselves. This helps them:
- Get along with other people
- Be more creative
- Feel good about their bodies and their minds
- Be successful in school and life
WHEN DOES SELF-ESTEEM START?
From the very beginning, when you respond to your baby’s cries and needs, you are showing love. When she feels loved, a child thinks, "I’m worth something just because I’m me!" As she learns how to do things successfully, she thinks, "I can do some things well!" These thoughts help build a child’s self-esteem.
WHAT LEADS TO LOW SELF-ESTEEM?
Parents can hurt a child’s self-esteem by:
- Criticising or punishing too much
- Saying "Don’t" too much
- Protecting too much
- Expecting too much
- Not treating the child with respect
- Not giving warmth, love and hugs
- Making a child feel he’s only loved if he’s good.
WHAT LEADS TO HIGH SELF-ESTEEM?
Parents can help by:
- Being warm and loving
- Having clear limits and expectations
- Giving the child chances to achieve
- Giving the child chances to make decisions
- Helping the child learn to be independent
- Being strong role models
STRENGTHEN YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM
- Shower your child with warm loving touch: cuddling, hugging, and rocking.
- Respond quickly when your baby cries.
- Focus on the positive. Catch your child being good, and talk about it.
- Praise your child’s small steps toward success.
- Use "Do" instead of "Don’t." For example, "walk when you’re in the house," instead of "don’t run."
- Look for ways to have one-on-one time with each child every day.
- Give choices whenever you can – such as what to wear.
- Set clear, firm limits. A few firm rules work better than a long list of fuzzy ones.
- Clearly describe behaviour you don’t like. Then say what would be better: "I don’t like it when you yell. Speak to me more softly."
- Help you child develop interests or talents.
- Let you child help plan menus and help cook meals
- Sit down together at least once a day for a meal.
- Give your child his own jobs to do. Remember his age! Teach him how to do the job. Start out easy.
- Have a daily routine, with enough rest and exercise.
- Keep a scrapbook with your child to remember happy times and show what she has learned.
Reprinted with permission of zerotofive.org (www.zerotofive.org )