Dr. Harold Frye, HSLT Child Psychologist
A line from a popular poem titled Children Live What They Learn reads, “If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.” For parents, that means setting the stage for self-esteem.
How early should you start?
Child behavior experts suggest that parents can start giving children a sense of self-value while they are infants. For example, when babies demonstrate a milestone, such as rolling over on the bed, parents should give them an encouraging smile or even a bit of good-natured baby talk. For the toddler who is taking baby steps, make sure to clap for him or her to show your approval. The most important thing that parents can do is model self-esteem. If parents are happy with their bodies or the work they do, children know that and get that just from their parents’ presence and how parents talk about it, as opposed to a mother who is not happy with her body image and is always bemoaning the fact that she doesn’t have the skinny little body that she wants. It has to do with how you feel about yourself.
What Parents Can Do to Help?
Give your child praise:
Don’t be stingy with your compliments. If a job is done well, tell your child so.
Read to them:
There are many beautifully illustrated books with images of minority children.
Redirect negative beliefs and thoughts:
When children make negative statements about themselves point those out. Have them focus instead on their positive attributes and create affirming statements about their strong points.
Avoid ridiculing and teasing your children:
Learn how to give criticism without inflicting shame or belittling your children.
Encourage their talents and gifts:
Every child has something that he or she is good at. Whatever it is, help your child develop his or her interests, creativity or sport.
Show them that you have confidence in them:
Give your children small problems to solve. Not only with this help them gain confidence in themselves, it will show that you trust them. If they can’t solve them alone, help by making suggestions that will spark their decision-making skills.
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