“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”
Self-esteem is an individual’s subjective evaluation of their own worth and confidence in one’s abilities. Healthy self-esteem is one of the most important characteristics of healthy child development, especially for immigrant children.
A child’s social, behavioral, and emotional health plays a crucial role in how they handle setbacks, peer pressure, and other challenges throughout life.
Here are some small but significant ways you can help your children develop their self-esteem:
Understand self-esteem vs arrogance
The first step is you as a parent understanding what self-esteem really looks like. Self-esteem is shaped by how much your children loved, and how much support and encouragement (or criticism) they receive from important people in their lives, notably like their parents and teachers.
Being self-confident does not mean thinking that the world revolves around you or that your needs are more important than those of other people. Likewise, healthy self-esteem is not arrogance, narcissism, or entitlement. Balance out your child’s self-esteem with other important values such as having empathy, being kind, having good manners, being charitable, and having a sense of gratitude.
Show unconditional love consistently
Knowing how much you love them gives your children a sense of security and belonging that is crucial to their view of themselves. Your unconditional love lays the groundwork for all the healthy and strong relationships they will form later in their lives.
So hug your kids when you say goodbye, snuggle together and read a book, and express your love every single day. As your kids grow, this foundation of love will help them as they continue to build their own social circles, make friends, and form bonds with teammates.
Have fun and play together
When you play with your children, it shows them you like spending time with them and you value their company. Just having fun with your child offers numerous benefits for both of you.
Not only do kids develop confidence in their ability to be an interesting and entertaining person who can form solid social bonds, but studies have shown a child’s odds of being happy increases and their risk of depression and anxiety decreases when they engage in healthy play. Plus, playing and have fun is a great stress reliever for both of you.
Give your child responsibilities and chores
Being responsible for age-appropriate chores gives your child a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Even if they don’t do something perfectly, let them know you appreciate their efforts. Praise them for all the things they do well, and reassure them that over time, they’ll get better and better at many things, including their chores.
Having chores and responsibilities also gives kids a sense of control over their lives. And in a time when things are unpredictable, having responsibility over small jobs around the house can go a long way in building confidence and resilience.
Avoid “helicopter parenting” and encourage independence
The elementary-school years are a time of fast-growing independence in kids. By the time they reach middle-school age, many children are starting to spend time alone at home, walking to school by themselves, and helping younger siblings.
It’s important to allow your kids to grow increasingly more independent: Let them figure out how to talk to teachers about any problems on their own, organize homework assignments, make sure their sports uniforms are packed and ready, and so on. So-called helicopter parenting undermines kids’ abilities to do things on their own and negatively impacts their self-esteem. It also robs them of autonomy.
Encourage your kids to advocate for themselves and ask questions when they experience challenges before you intervene. Doing so will build their independence and ultimately their self-esteem.
Correcting without insulting
Learn to correct without insulting. When your child misbehaves or does something that frustrates you, be sure to separate the behavior from your child. You’re human—when your child pushes your buttons, you’ll probably be irritated or even angry. Experiencing these feelings is completely normal, but don’t engage in name-calling or shame your child.
Take the emotion out of your discipline. A good way to do this is by using natural and logical consequences, and speaking to your child in an assertive but pleasant and friendly tone.
Teach your children the value of setbacks
Emphasize the fact that being human means making mistakes and not being perfect. Teach your child to view setbacks as opportunities for improvement and growth.
Be patient with your children when they make mistakes. Doing so will help build your child’s confidence and show that making mistakes is not the end of the world—as long as they address it in a healthy way.
Don’t be glued to technology
In today’s environment, most of us, including students and parents, are consistently connected to our devices. Mobile phones, tablets, and laptops allow people to text, post to social media, conduct business, do schoolwork, and check email on a regular basis. Of course, this became especially necessary during the pandemic.
All this connectivity is both good and bad. It’s positive because people can be more productive and stay connected to others from the comfort and safety of their homes. But online activity can come at a cost if it interferes with family relationships and communication. Likewise, too much screen time can affect physical activity.
As a family, decide what type of online activities are necessary and what is purely entertainment. Then devise a plan where you all balance your daily screen time with off-screen activities like going for walks, riding bikes, reading, and playing games together.
Create and show
Let your child display their work around the house. When they create artwork, write a story, or put together a project for school, invite your child to tell you about their work. Ask what they want people to think or feel and what they like best about their creations.
Giving children a chance to show off what they make or to talk about the things they create lets them know that their hard work is worthy of attention. It also communicates that their opinions and thoughts matter.
Even if your child is primarily doing all their work at home rather than in school, encourage them to display their work around the house. Doing so builds confidence in their abilities and encourages them to continue working hard on their creative endeavors.
Final word: Be kind to yourself
Remember, just as you don’t expect your kids to be perfect, don’t expect perfection from yourself either. You may not get it right all the time, and that’s okay..
As long as you’re consistently trying to share love and positivity, you are building confidence in them despite the mistakes along the way. Remain kind to your children – and to yourself as well.