Want your child to be independent, confident, self-sufficient, proud, and happy? Adults have a huge part in helping children build their self-esteem and resilience. Read on for a few ways to get started.
1. Support the desire to be independent
Give them space to practice skills for themselves before stepping in. Persistence is a trait not often lauded, but it is most impressive to see a 4-year-old focusing for minutes to put on their own shoes. When they succeed, they will feel such a sense of accomplishment!
2. Give praise, selectively
Praise, unlike love, safety, and respect, isn't always necessary. If your child completes a routine task, like hanging up their jacket, there is no need to give praise or thanks. Acknowledge the act simply, "you put your jacket on the hook," but refrain from fanfare for every task.
Instead, give praise when your child is excited about something they learned or did, when you notice they worked for a long time, or when they help without being asked. Praise them by saying, "you tried many times, and then you did it!" or "you are smiling and jumping because you climbed up that ladder, you must be proud of yourself!"
3. Help them learn to do new things
Be a guide for your child. Work together to practice new skills, like zipping a zipper. Ask your child to do one part while you do the other. Each time you complete the task together, they will gain confidence to try it themselves.
4. Focus on strengths
Everything won't always go perfectly, so focus on your child's strengths over weaknesses. For example, perhaps your child is trying to get a ball into a small basketball hoop. If they are unsuccessful, point out how high the ball went or how strong their arms. Focus on what they DID do, rather than what they didn't.
5. Ask their opinion
Getting ready to make a decision? Take your child's ideas into account and follow through. Small responsibilities, like choosing what they'll have for dinner or what book they'll read, help build self-confidence in young children.