11 Things To Do To Help Your Child Strengthen Self-Esteem

“Nobody likes me!” “I hate myself!” “Everybody does ‘it’ better than me.” “There is no reason to live.”

These are alarming and frightening things for a parent to hear. Are they true? How seriously should you take them? What should you do?

You want to take it seriously enough to investigate further. Figure out how real this is for your child; and then to make some choices for next steps. How do you do that?

There is no one answer, here. Each child is different. Some children keep to themselves and put on a good front. Parents of these children have to be really good detectives – watching, observing, noticing patterns and clues of behavior and dropped words. Other children are very dramatic and every perceived disappointment becomes life-ending, but not really. Parents of these children must be able to sift the wheat from the shaft and find out if there really is cause for concern.

So, the biggest key (I guess that means there are 12 in this article!), is to be present with your child, pay attention to who they really are, their “norm” so you have a baseline. Be with them in their lives.

Okay, now what do you do? Here are other 11 powerful things to do when you are concerned about your child’s self-esteem.

1.    Be as neutral as possible, not uncaring, just not panicked. If you are panicked, your child doesn’t have anyone as a firm foundation, they begin to feel responsible for you too, and this will only exacerbate the situation if it is serious and make them stop talking to you if they are just expressing themselves.
2.    Ask questions, chat not interrogate. This might not happen all at once, it might be in segments, casually or pointedly – depending on your child (this is why the biggest key – see above – is so important). Questions to ask include – what is going on in your life? What is going on that feels like _______(whatever they said originally). How come you are feeling so low, do you know? Look for evidence of the reality.
3.    Listen to what they say, not for what you want to hear. This is how you will learn about what is going on for them. Remember you are learning about their reality, not what you think it right.
4.    Do not try to convince them otherwise. You can offer other explanations after you acknowledge how they feel (see #5). Offering other options to interpret a situation is tricky, you are still investigating here – how do they take it? If they are unwilling to see other options that gives you information on how they think, interpret, see their world.
5.    Depending on their age, you can offer suggestions on how to handle a specific situation. If the child is an older child or teen, be sure to ask if they want your thoughts. If they aren’t open, they won’t hear, so let them know you have some ideas when they are ready. There are many ways to give suggestions that are both direct and subtle.
6.    Begin to comment on the positives you see – them playing with friends, a call they receive, that they are enjoying a day at school – and perhaps ask them to share what went well their day. This doesn’t have to be all the time, just bring it in so they begin to hear themselves say positive things too.
7.    If the feelings do seem to be deeper seeded, bring in what I call “your village.” Those people who are trusted advisors to you and your children. Godparents, friends, teachers, etc. and ask them to chat with your child or play with and observe your child and share their thoughts with you.
8.    Watch their behavior, observe what is going on, perhaps ask teachers how they experience your child in the areas of concern. You can do this with our without divulging your concerns.
9.    Notice if there are behaviors that they are doing that might be contributing to being left out, hurt, etc. If so, then either work with your child yourself or engage a counselor or teacher (particularly early childhood teachers) to assist your child in becoming aware of and changing behaviors. If it seems these behaviors are unconscious or systemic (see previous blogs) then take measures to address the underlying issues involved.
10.    Research strategies to shift their mindset – techniques re: self-talk, books on self-esteem, affirmations, EFT, etc. depending on the age of your child.
11.    Be sure you are appreciating and acknowledging your child at home as a person, giving them responsibility and helping them to feel empowered. It is important not to falsely pump up a child’s self-esteem but a balance of acknowledging strengths and giving constructive criticism will help your child feel empowered to handle what comes up in life.

This is not all done at once, it is done bit by bit – not pouncing on your child, remember you are not in panic mode. Gently and consistently you can guide your child to feel better about him/herself. That is what parents are for, to help our kids up and help them find their way back to the beauty of who they truly are.

It is well worth the effort. Your child’s self-esteem – their sense of self and their ability to navigate the world successfully – is the cornerstone of their living a quality life.


Speak Your Mind