There will come day when your kids are going to be all grown-up, and you won’t be able to protect them anymore. The best thing you can do is to help them develop a healthy sense of self-worth, so they can face all of life’s challenges on their own. Letting go is not going to be easy, but there’s going to a be different sense of satisfaction and pride when you’ll see them standing on their own two feet.
Developing self-esteem is a lifelong process, but the foundation is laid early on, when your children become aware of themselves as individuals, around the age of three.
There may be dips, and peaks throughout their life, but these are no cause for alarm. All of us have probably had some days when we weren’t feeling quite ourselves. And likewise, we had days when we felt like we could conquer the world. These shifts are perfectly normal, and everyone experiences them, even kids. If you really sit down, and have a talk with your kids, putting aside the fact that they’re little, and inexperienced, there’s a lot you can learn about them, and from them.
The first thing you need to do is to really get to know your child. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do for you children’s self-esteem. Getting to know them shows that you respect their individuality. You understand that they are people in their own right, with wants, needs, bad days and good days. Even though they don’t have your experience, or knowledge, you shouldn’t dismiss their opinions, just because they’re kids.
So, when it comes to disagreements, argue with your kids. Don’t use arguments like “Because I said so”. Let them speak their mind, and then try to explain why your alternative is better. Kids are really quick to learn, and even though it may take some time before they catch on to subtler points in your argumentation, they’re going to learn a very valuable lesson.
They’re going to learn the value of defending their point, but also of listening to the other person’s arguments. They are going to understand the value of conversations when it comes to solving disagreements.
And when it comes to tough subjects, tell it to them straight. The world is full of mysteries for a young mind. You shouldn’t be one of them. Treat them as you would any adult, who just lacks some information, and mental training. They’re going to be very thankful later on.
Children are also highly sensitive to praise. If your child is proud of something they’ve done, make sure they know you acknowledge their achievement. But don’t exaggerate. The key to healthy praise is moderation, and enabling your children to understand exactly what they are being praised for.
Recent studies have uncovered the fact that children who are told they’re smart from a very early age have difficulty dealing with mistakes later on in life. Their personality develops around the idea that they are smart, and that becomes who they are. Later on, for every minor mistake, they will question this assumption, and this can lead to an actual identity crisis. If they’re not actually smart, then who are they?
Keep in mind that you are the person they look up to. Don’t use that power to gain control over them (even though they can be such a handful sometimes). Instead, show that they can help you. Give them small tasks around the house, and show them that you appreciate the effort.
Knowing that they can help even someone who is so awe-inspiring such as yourself is going to instill in them a healthy sense of their own worth. Sure, they can’t do all the things you can, but they can contribute. This is going to make them more outgoing when they grow, and more likely to lend a helping hand.
Provide your children with the tools to form their own opinions. Admit when you are wrong about things. They’re going to have to deal with all sorts of people all throughout their adult life. A healthy sense of self-esteem is going to allow them to handle all of life’s little challenges, and come out on top every time.
Self-esteem is not just about understanding your own worth, but also acknowledging that of others, and knowing your place in the grander scheme of things, without devaluing your contribution to it.
Self-esteem is understanding your own worth & acknowledging that of others. @mike_jones35 (Click to Tweet!)
It’s hard to go against your instincts of protecting your kids at any cost. But life is not always sunshine and lollipops. And, some day, they’re going to face it, one way or another. Trust them to make the right decisions. They’re much tougher than they seem, and you probably know that already.
Mike Jones is a Boston University graduate, with an MS in Mass Communication. He is now pursuing his dreams as a full-time writer. Mike is very passionate about everything related to self-growth and psychology. He sometimes writes for Blifaloo.
Image courtesy of blueMix.