Lucy is a 10 year old child who believes she is not smart enough. Her parents noticed her self-esteem is quite low and want to find a way to help her regain her confidence.
Stories like Lucy's are not uncommon in today’s high achieving world. In order to help Lucy, her parents reached out to #RemarkableMe, where she learnt new tools and activities to find negative patterns and thoughts and replace them with #empowering #positivethoughts that helped to build Lucy's #selfesteem, #selfconfidence and her #resilience. She was able to #overcomeanxiety that she had about moving up to Secondary School and in fact, most of her grades improved!
Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder which most children in the UK now suffer from. It is where the individual views themselves as inadequate, incompetent and even unlovable!
To learn more about how to help families improve their child’s outlook, we spoke to Alison Wheeler, who is one of the facilitators on the Remarkable Me programme about 10 things as parents, we can do to help support and build our children's self-esteem.
Before we look at my top 10 tips to help build your child's self-esteem I feel it is important to talk about what actually happens when a child compares themselves to another person.
When a child continually assess whether they are “better than” or “less than” another person, it creates either low self-esteem if they see themselves as “less than” or can create arrogance when they see themselves as “better than”.
Parents can discuss with their children why differences are good and we need all different types of people with different gifts and talents to thrive in life.
Particularly when self-esteem is low, we can help children identify their own special gifts and learn to love and embrace their uniqueness.
Does self-esteem and self-confidence need to be taught?
I like to think of self-esteem and self-confidence like oxygen; we need it to feel alive, happy, healthy and worthy!
Children and adults, with high self-esteem have a higher value of themselves and are able to see their capabilities and talents unlike those with a lower sense of self-esteem.
They naturally have higher self-confidence in their abilities to do things and are more likely to take risks, try to new things, feel loved, accepted confident and heard. Even when they make a mistake or face a failure they are more resilient and can bounce back from it.
Here are my top 10 tips for helping to build your child's self-esteem
1. Take a step back
I feel there are more effective ways to build a child's self-esteem than just praising everything they do. To do so, though, you have to learn to step back and let your child take risks, make choices, solve problems and stick with what they start. It is here that they will build resilience and ultimately gain more self-esteem.
2. Over-praising children can actually do more harm than good
Self-esteem comes from feeling loved and secure, and from developing competence and resilience. However, getting competent at something can take time and patience and by overpraising our children can actually do more harm than good as we are lowering the bar for them.
If you tell your child they are already doing a fantastic job, you are saying that they no longer need to push themselves. Confidence and resilience comes from doing, trying, failing and then trying again, with practice.
By constantly praising children can result in them either thinking they are perfect or that they need to try to be perfect all the time, which is an impossible standard.
Inaccurate praise can also confuse children. For example if a child cant spell and we tell them that they are doing amazing, they will learn not to trust their own instincts and that praise is just lying.
Telling your child that they are the best, the smartest or the most talented is also setting them up for unrealistic ideals of themselves which can result in bad news further down the road.
3. Let your child take healthy risks
To build confidence in the world around them, children HAVE to take chances, make choices and take responsibility for them.
I remember watching my son, James, lift a big jug of orange squash at a party. He was about to pour it into a glass and I stopped and stood there holding my breath.
Rather than trying to save my son before he had a chance to try, I watched as James spill the squash all over the floor.
James found a waitress, asked for a paper towel and cleaned up his own mess. He solved his own problem—just like we do as successful adults.
4. Let children make their own choices (within reason)
When we allow our children to make their own age-appropriate choices, they feel more powerful. I always let her my children decide on their own whether to wear a hat or gloves in winter. Once they know the difference between warm and cold, it is up to them. They should have control over their bodies and take responsibility for their choices.
5. Let them help around the house
In building self-esteem, children also need opportunities to demonstrate their competence and feel that their contribution is valuable.
We can help by giving them jobs to do around the house, asking them to help with cooking, setting the table, making their bed or doing daily chores.
6. Encourage children to pursue their interests
Another way to boost confidence in children is to encourage them to take on tasks that they show interest in, then make sure they follow through to completion. It doesn’t matter what the task is, it could be anything from swimming a lap to completing a level on a video game.
The main purpose is for your child to stick with what they have started so that they gain a sense of accomplishment at the end.
7. Make clear to them that your love is unconditional
It is important that your child knows that you love them even if they fail or make bad decisions. If all you focus on with your child is performance they will think that you only love them for their performance. Let them know that you love them unconditionally and will always be there to support them!
8. Praise Effort
Avoid focusing praise only on results such as getting a really good grade or fixed qualities such as being athletic. Instead, offer most of your praise for effort, progress, and attitude.
Examples of effort praise can include:
"You're working hard on that project,"
"You're getting better and better at these maths tests,"
"I'm proud of you for practicing guitar— you've really stuck with it."
With this kind of praise, children put effort into things, work toward goals, and try, leading to success!
How does the Remarkable Me programme help children build their self-esteem?
Our goal is to increase self-esteem and self-confidence so kids feel capable of facing life’s challenges and don’t give up. They learn to achieve their goals, make progress, to help and give.
Sign up to our programme today - www.remarkableme.uk