Being a parent is tough stuff. Some days I feel like I am still learning. I guess I will always be learning. With every new stage comes different questions. One question I have been thinking a lot about recently is how I can help Little Crab to have a great self esteem. I’ve read several articles and have compiled a list of 9 ways we as parents can help our children develop a healthy self esteem.
Resist comparisons. When you compare your children you foster shame, envy and rivalry. Even comparing them to their friends can be harmful. Remember we all have special talents and are made for a purpose. Let you child be who they are and give unconditional love.
Pay attention. Everyone craves personal attention. Make time to sit down with your child and give them your undivided attention. Even 15 minutes reading a book or working a puzzle will give them a sense that you are there for them. Put down the phone or the computer and talk to your kid.
Listen well. If your child needs to talk, stop and listen to what she has to say. She needs to know that her thoughts, feelings, desires, and opinions matter. Put down the phone or the computer and talk to your kid. Little Crab and I do a lot of our talking at bed time. We talk about his day and sometimes mine. I ask a series of questions like “What did you eat for lunch?” “Did you go potty today?” “What book did you like best?”
Celebrate the positive. Everyone responds well to encouragement, so make an effort to acknowledge the good things your child does every day. Telling my son it was good when he used his “excuse me” on the slide at the playground is a self-esteem booster. I make sure I “catch” him being good and point it out to him and thank him for using manners, picking up toys, cooperating or listening.
Provide encouragement. Encouragement means acknowledging progress – not just rewarding achievement. So if your child is struggling with a math problem, say: “You’re trying very hard and you almost have it!” instead of “Not like that. Let me do it.”
Offer choices. A good rule of thumb: Let your child choose between two possibilities. I offer Little Crab two choices for shirts. If he doesn’t like those two we go back and pick two more, usually he picks one of the two. I know his favorite shirts! When he gets to choose he feels like he is in charge. I don’t care which shirt he wears as long as it matches his shorts, so really it is no skin off my back.
Provide opportunities for them to help you. One Saturday I was cleaning the sliding glass door. Little Crab wanted to help me so I got him a paper towel and let him wipe the Windex too. I offer to let him help take the trash to the curb, throw things away for me, water the plants, and clean with a Lysol wipe, he enjoys helping and I enjoy letting him.
Along the same turn as providing opportunities for them to help is assigning a job or chore. There are certain tasks that Little Crab knows he is supposed to do. After bath he takes his clothes to his laundry basket. After a diaper change (hopefully he will potty train soon) he puts his diaper in the diaper pail. These are all things I have made clear that he is to do. It opens the door for “chores” when he is older.
I have created some “Love Notes” for your children. Print these out and tuck these fun quotes places where your child will find them. Taped to the lid of their lunch box or on top of their sandwich. Tucked a few pages after their bookmark in the book they are currently reading. In their back pack in the pocket with the pencils. In the pocket of their coat. On the mirror in the bathroom. On their alarm clock. Any fun place I missed? Leave your surprise in the comments! Enjojy!