Yes I can!
10:57 (GMT+2), Fri, 30 September 2011
Self-esteem describes a person’s overall appraisal of his or her own worth. All people have self-regard, self-worth, self-respect, self-love and self-integrity, but sometimes, these can turn against us, and we feel as though we have no value at all. The secret to a good self-esteem is to focus on the positive aspects of life, and not on the negative ones.
There are five important steps parents can apply to increase a child’s self-esteem.
Step one: Help them see the ripple effect of their actions
Show your children that everything that they do has an effect on others. Make your children aware of the ripple effect of their actions. For instance, when your child shares a toy or a packet of sweets, the receiver of the toy or sweets will feel cared for and good. The child who received the caring behaviour will go back to their families and be more caring and share more easily. This makes the whole family feel more cared for. Show your child how powerful their good deeds and behaviour can be.
Step two: Remind them of their abilities and competencies: “I can!”
Focus on the abilities and competencies of your children. I know it takes effort, focus and concentration, but the results are far reaching. It doesn’t matter how young your child is, he has a multitude of skills and talents.
Encourage your child to do as many things within his ability as possible. Maybe your three-year-old child can already put his clothes in the laundry basket. Encourage your child to do this, and then acknowledge what he did by saying something like: “Can you see how easy that was for you? You can be so proud of yourself!” This comment has great potential to help your child feel good about himself, and to do it again. Teach your children to unhook the “t” from can’t so that instead of saying “I can’t”, they say “I can”. Whatever you say to your mind, your mind will believe.
Step three: Show them how their strength grows because of their daily challenges.
Every person experiences a fair share of difficulties and challenges on a daily basis. Help your children realise that they have the abilities to deal with these difficulties and challenges. Point out an instance to your child where he has already managed to deal with a difficult situation.
Every child must deal with rejection. Help your child to see how his strength and resilience grows when he experiences rejection, and handles it properly. It’s also powerful for children to witness how their parents handle the challenges and difficulties of life. The more parents are role models for their children, and show them effective ways to deal with life’s difficulties, the more effectively children learn to do the same.
Step four: Help them to set realistic goals in realistic time frames
One of the most devastating things people can do to their self-esteem and confidence is to compare themselves to others, and to find themselves lacking, or not good enough. If your child sets unrealistic goals, your child will experience failure, which can be poisonous to a good self-esteem. Teach your child to set realistic goals.
For instance, my son wanted to play first team soccer because one of his best mates played first team soccer. He was devastated when he wasn’t chosen, and he fell into a bottomless pit of self doubt. I made sure that I spent time with him and helped him to become realistic about his goals and expectations. I made him aware that his friend played club soccer as well as school soccer and that his friend practiced every day, including weekends. I asked my son if he wants to play soccer every day, including weekends, to which he quickly replied: “No. I want to spend time with my friends over weekends. I don’t want to play soccer over weekends”. He quickly saw that he had been unrealistic. He decided that he wanted to play third team soccer the next year, and would go to almost every soccer practice during the soccer season. It was realistic for him to aim to third team within the next year, taking his age, interest and commitment into consideration.
Step five: Use affirmations:
Affirmations remind the mind over and over of your potential. I have encouraged my children to write affirmations down for themselves and place them in spots where they can easily be seen. I regularly remind my children of the wise words of Dr. John Demartini: “You are a genius and you apply your wisdom”.
Another powerful affirmation to use is: “No matter what I have done or not done, I am worthy of love”. If you teach your children to believe this about themselves, they’ll understand that nothing that they do or don’t do makes them not good enough or smart enough to be loved. I always remind my children that I’ll always love them – unconditionally. Help your children to develop their own affirmations; words they can use to affirm to themselves how great they are, just the way they are. This is a powerful method to cement great self-esteem and self-confidence.
Red flags in increasing self-esteem
Parents just want to do the best for their children, and one of the things parents love to do is to pander to their precious ones. There’s a fine line between doing too much and doing enough for your children. Doing too much is when parents do things for their child that their child can do for himself. It’s easier to just do things yourself, but this has the potential to create spoilt kids who other people call “brats”. When you do too little, you have unrealistic expectations of what your child can do.
It sometimes helps for parents to learn the “sitting on your hands” technique. This is difficult for lots of parents to master, but the mastery of this technique leads to a definite increase in children’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
The “sitting on your hands” technique is where you literally sit on your hands and refrain from jumping in to help your child do something that they are capable of doing themselves. It means being patient enough so that your child can figure out how to do something on his own. This empowers your child to find out how competent and smart he is.
Another red flag is praise. Praise actually fosters dependence in children by teaching them to rely on an external source of validation. Over-reliance on praise can produce crippling effects. Children begin to believe that their worth depends on the opinion of others. This is clearly a big stumbling block to increasing your child’s self-esteem.
Green flags in increasing self-esteem
Encouragement and acknowledgement are green flags for increasing self-esteem. Encouragement teaches children to accept their own inadequacies, to have confidence in themselves and to feel useful through their contributions. We must be careful not to place our value judgments on anything our children do. I personally believe this to be one of the most important self-esteem builders and therefore I often say to my children “you can be so proud of yourself!” or “it was so easy for you to do that” or “you are a can kid, not a can’t kid”. When parents encourage their children and acknowledge their age-appropriate efforts, it goes a long way in building a child’s self-esteem.
Tip Box: How to avoid overdoing things
1. Love and accept your child for all that they are. See them as successful and unsuccessful, nice and mean, kind and unkind. Your child has it all, like every other person.
2. Have realistic expectations of yourself and of your children.
3. Lower praise and increase encouragement and acknowledgement.
4. Be a good role model to your kids, not a perfect one. Perfect doesn’t exist.
5. Let your child be a child.
6. Hold their hands but don’t chain their souls.
7. Invest time in your children, but not as their friend. You are the parent.
8. Chill and enjoy them. They grow up very fast!