How parents can help build their children's self-esteem.
The world is a very hard place. Nobody loves your children as much as you do. In fact, many people in this world are out there to break down your child. It's a tough reality to face. Your children will be told a lot of mean things. They will get told they are stupid, ugly, annoying, or they can't do anything right. They will be told that they aren't good at so many different things. It is really hard as parents to combat the negativity and the bullying in this world. It is our job as parents to help our children's confidence. We want our kids to know how great they really are. We want them to believe in themselves and to know that if they put their mind to something they can accomplish anything! Teach your kids they really can move mountains no matter what the world tells them. As parents, we try to find ways to help our kid's confidence.
Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a child's therapist, said that "instead of praising children to build up their self-esteem, they need relief from too much self-focus." Dr. Kennedy-Moore suggests that parents encourage their kids to not have a "contingent self-esteem." Having a contingent self-esteem is when children only feel confident in themselves when they succeed at something. Their self-esteem is based on their accomplishments. Children start to have more confidence when they have good grades when they make the team, or they excel at an assignment. Dr. Kennedy-Moore said that we need to teach our children to not base their self-esteem on their accomplishments because it makes them extremely vulnerable. When the kids don't do well on something, or if somebody does something better, than the child's self-esteem will drop. This can be very dangerous because children are bound to "fail" and parents need to help their kids learn that failure shouldn't impact their self-esteem.
Our society is tough. Children are being taught to be perfect. They are taught to look perfect, say perfect things, have the perfect experience, wear the perfect outfit and the list goes on. Children have a lot of "pressure to perform" and when the kids inevitably fall short they are completely crushed. When the kids are crushed they are more susceptible to giving up and not doing things that they could possibly fail. Dr. Kennedy-Moore says, "trying to be 'amazing' can lead to them to seek applause or hide flaws rather than acting with integrity and authenticity. Their self-esteem is fragile, built on a shaky base of self-focus and self-promotion."
Parents sometimes don't know how to respond to their self-doubting children, so they just continue to reassure them that they are wonderful. Many psychologists in the past have recommended parents to build their child's self-esteem through praise. Since then, we have learned that praising our children can actually backfire. Dr. Kennedy-Moore explains "that the key to fostering healthy self-esteem isn’t to try to convince children that they’re great. Instead, we should help them soften harsh self-judgment by connecting with something bigger than themselves. It may seem counterintuitive, but—rather than more self-love—the answer for self-critical kids is to reduce self-focus by developing a quiet ego.”