Children aren’t objects, they are little people. Everything they experience in their lives during the early years of development is brand new. When things are new it can be challenging and we can doubt ourselves which can create feelings of low self esteem. Children can feel scared, happy, curious, worried and excited and to become resilient, to learn to love themselves, to be able to empathise and care for others, to learn from mistakes and to eventually become self-sufficient they need positive self-esteem. As parents we have a huge impact on whether our children develop a high self-esteem. The little things you do every day can instil feelings that will help them grow into confident and happy children and adults in the future. Here are 8 things every child needs to hear:
Telling your children they are loved teaches them to love themselves and how to love others. You can give a child too many things but you can’t give them too much love. Hearing that you love them makes a child feel special, valued, likable, confident, worthy and happy. Feeling loved helps a child to feel secure and this gives them a strong base to explore and learn about the world around them.
Children need to hear that you are proud of them. Praise them for their achievements and for good behaviours that you would like to see more of. Describe the behaviour you are praising so that your child knows what they are being praised for. Knowing that you are proud of them for doing the right thing will build confidence and self esteem and help a child learn what is expected of them.
Admitting you are wrong and saying sorry can be tough but it is really important that your children see that you are able to do this. Being perfect is not possible and learning to admit to making mistakes or being in the wrong is an important life skill. When your children see you own up to being wrong, they see that it is ok to make mistakes and will have the courage to do this themselves. They will also learn that it is ok, and part of being human, not to be perfect. When your child admits to being wrong, praise their honesty and deal with their mistake in a way that leaves them feeling positive about themselves. If a child is made to feel bad about their mistakes they will not feel able to admit to being wrong and may learn to lie in order to hide their mistakes. Taking ownership of your mistakes and not being ridiculed when you admit to them creates an environment of tolerance and open-mindedness between you and your children. This becomes the foundation upon which they will learn to build all of their future relationships.
All parents get things wrong from time to time. We can be grumpy, break promises, forget important dates and damage things. We are human and so are children who also get things wrong sometimes. No one likes to be reminded constantly of the mistake they made, punished endlessly for it or humiliated in front of others for it. If your child makes a mistake give them a consequence that fits the mistake if you feel one is necessary and then move on. It is important that your child learns that they can make mistakes, that you will forgive them for doing so and that you still love them.
It is incredibly important to listen to your children so they know that you are interested in them and what they have to say. Through listening you learn about who your children are, their needs, what they like and dislike and their interests. Repeat some of what they say back to them so they can correct you if you have heard them wrong. By doing this you will be sure that you understand what your child is saying and it will confirm to your child that you are interested and listening carefully. Listening to your child and spending time with them helps strengthen the parent-child relationship, builds a strong bond between you and a sense of self worth in your child. Your child’s temperament and personality is different from yours so by listening to them and hearing their thoughts you will be able to provide direction (if it is wanted!). Ask for their opinions and input. This helps them to learn to problem solve, make their own decisions and develop self-sufficiency.
Taking responsibility for your actions is part of growing up. When your child makes a decision, good or bad, having to deal with the result of that decision means they become accountable for their actions and learn from experiencing the positive or negative consequences. These experiences help teach what is responsible and positive behaviour. If parents always rush to ‘rescue’ their child from the consequences the child will not experience the result of their decisions and find it harder to take responsibility for making positive,responsible choices in the future.
Encourage your children through your belief in them. Children learn from a young age that success is a result of effort and persistence. Celebrate their efforts and achievements and support them when they fail. Help them to see that everyone fails sometimes and that we can learn as much from our failures as our successes about ourselves and what we want for our future. Understanding why they succeeded or failed can help children get to know themselves. This knowledge will help them to decide what they need to do to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Having a healthy self-esteem will help your child build resilience so that they are able to pick themselves up when things don’t go so well and carry on. Help them to understand the strengths and weaknesses about their temperament so that they feel confident about choosing the right paths that will help them to succeed. When children believe they have what it takes to succeed they will have a more positive and joyful outlook on life.
Create feelings of safety and security for your children by being loving, reliable and consistent. Your children need to know that they will never be alone because their parents and family members will always be there for them. It’s easier to be calm and friendly when your child is behaving in a way you approve of but they need to know that you will always be there for them even when they are not. Give regular verbal and physical affection to your children. When they misbehave let them know that you are not happy about their behaviour but you love them and are there for them whenever they need you.
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