"I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later." -Excerpt from "If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again," by Diane Loomans
Your child's healthy development depends on having a solid sense of who they are and being confident in themselves.
Many parents often overlook building self-esteem and assume it's already there, which is a grave mistake. Low self-worth leads to problems later in life, but putting in a little effort while your kids are young will prevent heartache for them later.
Building your child's self-esteem is not a one-day project. It's a way of life in a loving, nurturing environment. A few kind words won't cause self-esteem to flourish, but a few hurtful ones may do more damage than you'll ever know. Be careful what you say to your child - chances are, they take everything far more seriously than you do, and they don't forget easily.
Let your child learn from their mistakes. It’s been rumored that young Albert Einstein was once carrying a jar of milk and spilled it everywhere; instead of becoming upset and belittling him, his mother calmly suggested that they try to find a better way to carry it. She let him fill the jar up with water and experiment with different ways to hold it in his little hands, and afterward they cleaned up the spilled milk together. When your child makes a mistake, don't make them feel stupid for doing so - laugh about it, if you can - but help them find ways to avoid doing it again.
When your child succeeds, a little praise goes a long way! Whether they made it to second base for the first time in tee-ball or painted a masterpiece, pay attention to the fact that they've accomplished something. Let them know they've done a great job and encourage them to keep getting better. Be careful not to give so much lavish praise that it sounds phony, though - kids have a keen sense of when an adult is being dramatic and they can see right through it.
Show your children that they are important to you. Setting aside a special time just for your child will make them understand that you care about their lives and that they are worth caring about. When you set aside time to play, read, or talk to your child, put everything else on hold. If someone calls you, let it go to voicemail. You can return the call later, but you can't ever get that time with your child back.
Never compare your child to another child, whether it's a sibling or family friend. Every child is different; we all know that. If Susie is stronger in math than your child, one of the most hurtful things you could say is, "Why can't you be more like Susie?" Your child doesn't want to be like Susie - she wants to be herself, and she wants you to recognise that she has strengths and talents, too! Pay attention to what your child is good at and let her know that you think she's a superstar in that department.
Give your child the opportunity to help you do things. Whether you're cooking dinner, cleaning up the yard, or remodeling the basement, your little one would love to be a part of what you're doing. You can take the opportunity to teach him something new while showing him that his help and input are important. After you've finished doing something together, your child will feel a strong sense of worth because he's actually accomplished a "grown-up" task.
Building self-esteem in children is not difficult; if you adopt the proper techniques, it will become a nurturing way of life that will guide them through adolescence to adulthood, and they'll be happy and healthy all the way.
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