16 Simple Steps to Improve Your Child's Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is something that everyone can struggle with well into your 30s, 40s, and 50s. For women, it’s especially hard seeing stick-thin models looking fierce on a runway while you try on that same little number and see a muffin-top flopping over the edges of your beautiful new skirt. Society is finally shutting that shame-train down but low self-esteem doesn’t have to just come from not looking like Kendall Jenner. Your self-esteem may plummet when you make a blunder in a presentation, or someone else comes up with a better idea in a meeting. Building your child’s self-esteem starts at an early age. It can help with how they deal with these issues during their younger years, and when they enter the ‘real world’.

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16 Stop Praising Them All the Time

Okay, so ignoring them and putting them down isn’t going to do you any favors but neither will constantly telling them they’re doing great and that they’re the best. Where does that leave them when they truly aren’t? Developing the idea that they can do anything better than anyone else, without practicing to get there, isn’t going to get them far in life.

15 Let Them Make Some Decisions

A little less stressful than letting them take a scary risk, let them make simple decisions around the home to help them boost their self-esteem. By letting them choose what’s for supper (maybe set a few parameters…no one wants to be eating chocolate ice cream and cookies for supper EVERY night), they will see that their opinion matters and that they can help the household. Let them pick out a healthy snack while at the grocery store, or a new juice that the whole family should try.

14 Taking Risks Can Lead to Improvement

Everyone likes to take risks; it’s what makes life fun. Not letting your child take a risk now and then isn’t going to make their life fun. It’s also not going to let them trust themselves. If you aren’t willing to put trust in your children (even if it’s a small risk that you know little to no harm will come out of it), then why should they put trust in themselves?

13 Chores Can Do Them Good

Chores, no matter the age, can be the absolute worst. No one wants to sweep the floor, clean the kitchen or put away their clean clothes…even if your mom folded them nicely and did 99 percent of the work for you. But, by doing everything for your child, you take away its value. If they’re too young to help with a meal or to use a lawnmower, start them off sweeping the floor twice a week. Get your 5-year-old making his/her bed every day, showing them just how perfect you can make those hospital corners.

12 Set Goals

Setting goals, at any age or state of career, is important. They can be as simple as cleaning up the spare bedroom by the end of the week, or large goals like making $200,000+ by the time you’re 35. That last goal may be in your child’s future but it’s doubtful that that is what they are thinking about. If their goal is to get the newest phone or video game that’s just been released (doesn’t everyone want Uncharted 4?), then you can help them set smaller goals like saving money to get to their end goal. Without going overboard, try making up a weekly chart for them to save money, or do extra chores (if you’re footing the bill), to get to their end goal.

11 Let Them Make Mistakes

If your child tries and fails, and gets insulted to their face (or worse, through social media,) let them lick their wounds for a minute, and tell them to try it again. Maybe their goal was too big to reach in such a short amount of time. Maybe their haircut really was a bad idea (see ‘risks’ above) that they wanted to try out. Instead of just telling them that kid is stupid and that they’ll make their goal, no matter what, show them what went wrong and how they can fix it.

10 Love Yourself

Everyone’s been there. You’re having a bloaty kind of day. Your jeans don’t fit and your hair lies flat, so you tell yourself you’re ugly and need to shape up. Letting your children hear you constantly criticize yourself does more harm than just to you. If that’s what they’re hearing the normal should be, they’ll pick up on that and run with it. Love yourself, and show your children it’s okay to have a few bumps and lumps now and again.

9 Perfection Doesn’t Rule the World

Show of hands who here wants to be perfect? Everyone? Great. Now, show of hands who is actually perfect? No one? Superb. Letting your children know that perfection is best left found under the myth category (and Blake Lively’s hair) can help their self-esteem soar. It may not reduce the bad feelings that come from a bully, but by raising a confident child from day one, you can help them overcome those feelings and rise above it all. Besides, bullying doesn’t go away in life and can be found everywhere, even in those that should be doing good, including workplaces and protest groups. How you handle your bullies and feel about yourself will help anyone overcome issues that arise from bullies.

8 Save the Comparisons for Fashion Mags

Comparing your children, even if you’re doing it by accident, may hurt your child’s feelings. Now, your child isn’t going to be the best at everything in life. Someone’s going to take that over time and again. However, if they’re seeing the comparisons being drawn out by someone they trust and someone that shouldn’t care who is better at soccer or smarter, they’re going to start feeling like everyone is judging them no matter how well they do in life.

7 Stop Making Science Projects

No one wants to make a Science Fair project anyways, so why are you? Let them learn from their mistakes. If they fail, that’s their own mess to clean up, isn’t it? Helping them glue or cut things (if they’re going all out and require a few 2x4s and a saw), is definitely a good place to get your hands dirty, but only if they ask and only if it’s necessary (see 2x4’s and a saw). For all of you out there doing everything for your children, stop. Just stop.

6 Cut the Sarcasm

Not using sarcasm in everyday life can be…challenging…for a lot of people. That’s fair. However, when it comes to your children, especially those that are much younger, leave it simmering for your husband. Using sarcasm with your 5-year old can make him/her think you’re looking down upon them and that their feelings don’t matter. Instead, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and swallow that sarcastic comment that would have Ilana yelling ‘yaaas Queen’ at you.

5 Listen to Them

Your 11-year-old’s problems may make you want to roll your eyes, but she has problems, too. You should think about how lucky she is that this is that worst thing that could possibly be happening to her. Remember back when you were younger and a boy didn't wave back to you in the cafeteria? Devastating, right? Listen to your child’s problems, letting her vent. Let her know that you’re the safe place she can come to whenever anything goes wrong in her life when she’s looking for a little advice.

4 Spend Some Quality Time

You may spend tons of quality time with your family but do you spend time with each of your children just by themselves? Even if it’s for 30 minutes before they head off to bed, sit down and chat with them, letting them know you’re there when they need you. Who knows, you may find out details in their life that could delight you, or find how you could help.

3 Set Down Those Rules

You’ve heard it time and again: children need structure. The reason you’ve heard this so many times is because it’s true. If your child whines for a chocolate bar after you’ve had a long day at work and just can’t deal anymore, leading to them getting what they want, they’ll know they can get what they want next time. Not only does this produce annoying children, but it’s not helping them with their self-esteem. Knowing their limits makes children feel secure, leading to a happier and more confident child.

2 Throw a Few Compliments Their Way

Don’t go overboard and praise them for every little thing they do, but give praise every now and again will make them feel stronger in their decisions. Your child is struggling with math but they’re trying hard and studying every day to improve? This is the time to offer praise for their hard-work, even if the difference is marginal.

1 Show Them What They’re Good At

Comparisons will happen in life. You may see a difference between yourself and your neighbor on how clean your homes are, or who has a knack for interior decorating. Your child will see the same thing in life.

They may be upset because they haven’t mastered skills but want to get there. Or, they may be upset because they aren’t naturally talented in a subject. If they’re upset because they’re not doing well at one thing, tell them how they can improve (if it’s really important to them to learn and improve upon), and show them what they’re really good at.


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