Many children go about the first years of their lives thinking they're pretty darn amazing. Those with doting parents hear praise for their every little step and are told they can do anything. We build their self confidence up every chance we get, but then eventually, the world starts to bring them down.
From the first snubs by friends to realizing they're not the best (or even close to the best) at some things, the self-esteem of kids is constantly under attack as they grow older. It's reality, but it's also heartbreaking for a parent to see a child once so sure of herself start to question and doubt herself. So how do we as parents help keep on building that inner confidence so that they can stay strong through all of the challenges that come with grade school?
I spoke Nancy S. Buck, PhD, president and founder of Peaceful Parenting Inc., to get some advice. Last week she provided some tips on how to build self-esteem in toddlers, and this week, she gave some specifically geared toward kids in grade school. Her philosophy is largely the same -- to ask questions that prompt them to think about their actions and choices and to then listen and guide them. Here are three easy ones:
1. “What’s great about you today?”
2. “What did you do at school today that makes you feel proud?”
3. “Who did you help today?”
(This can be changed, added to or varied based on a particular value that parents want their children to concentrate on. So if you want your child to be generous you can ask, “How were you generous today?” or if compassion is an important value then the above fits.)
She also added an extra suggestion:
“Is there anything you want to know from me about something I noticed and appreciated in you today?”
If the child says yes, then answer as specifically as you can and make it about a specific quality or characteristic in addition to a positive physical attribute. Like, “In addition to being the most beautiful daughter I have (only one) I was so proud when I saw you generously sharing your favorite toy with your younger brother after school today.”
If your child says no, then don’t give an answer!
In what ways do you build confidence in your children?
Image via jennifer donley/Flickr