Five Simple Steps to Improve a Child’s Self Esteem and Confidence

Do you make sure to give hugs, encouragement, and praise to your child on a regular basis? Or do you sometimes forget to say “thank you” to your child, or apologize to them for something you did wrong? As parents you set a powerful example. You have a great deal of influence on how confident your child becomes. You can contribute to a high level of self esteem in your child, or unfortunately create the exact opposite effect.

So what can you do to improve your child’s self esteem and confidence?
Here are 5 simple suggestions that can make a big difference.

1. Talk to your child, not at her. Engage her in conversation that lets them know that you are interested in her world, her thoughts and feelings. This not only encourages and enhances language development, but it can be a way to strengthen the bond between parent and child.
Of course there are two parts to a conversation, talking and listening. In our busy world the skill of really listening is often neglected. For example, do you ever find yourself formulating your response to someone before they finish speaking? Is that real listening? Often we are in a hurry, or preoccupied and although we might hear the words, we don’t take time to listen to the message behind the words.
Instead of the standard “What did you do at school today?” consider questions that probe a little deeper:
What was the best thing that happened to you today? Why was it the best?
What was the most difficult thing you had to do today?
What did you learn today that had nothing to do with school?

When a child makes a mistake, take time to discuss it with her and ask:
How could you have handled that differently? How will you handle that situation next time?
Respond to questions honestly and listen to what your child has to say. It takes time and patience to engage in conversations with your child, but the benefits will be long lasting. When you take the time to talk to your child you are telling her that she is important and what she thinks and says is important. This is a terrific confidence builder for your child.

2. Help your child stay organized. Provide a desk or special place in the home where she can study that is hers alone. Encourage your child to place all papers, and her backpack in that special place when she gets home. Go through the backpack together and ask about the various assignments and homework. Allow the child to prepare the backpack for the next school day herself. Give her the responsibility to have everything she needs to be ready for the day. Resist the temptation to bring items to school that the child has forgotten. She won’t learn to be confident and self sufficient if she is constantly enabled by well meaning parents. Helping your child to develop organizational skills is important in doing well at school. When your child can start in a small way to take care of this small responsibility it leads to confidence and an ability to handle more challenging situations as she gets older.

3. Read to your child. Reading is such an important skill and reading together opens up a whole new world, especially if she is a reluctant or poor reader. As you read you are providing an example, a good role model of how reading “works” e.g. we read left to right, when we turn the page we start at the top and read down. Find books that you love, and read them with enthusiasm. Make books an important part of your family life. If you aren’t able to buy a lot of books, visit the library and allow your child to choose books that interest her. You don’t have to be concerned about difficulty level if you are doing the reading. Treat books with respect in your home. Create a special place where they are stored safely.
When your child is more confident in her reading ability, by all means take time to listen to her read, but never force a reluctant reader to slog through a book that is too challenging, you will only reinforce her dislike of reading. Read it to her! One final tip about reading, demonstrate the power that reading has for you as an adult. Let your child see you reading, talk about the books you read and what you enjoy about them: the author, the plot, what you learned from reading it. This is especially true for fathers. Dad, let your sons see that reading is important to you. Statistically boys seem to struggle more in elementary school with reading than girls. I often wonder if it’s because boys perceive reading as a “girl thing”. Many elementary teachers are women, and if it is mom who is reading to kids at home, then it is easy to see how boys might come to that erroneous conclusion!

4. Realize that the way you talk to your child when they have done something wrong is critical. Don’t yell, criticize or reprimand. When your child has done something that needs correction, remember to separate the behavior from the child. It is more appropriate to say “you did a bad thing” than to say “you are a bad girl”. Remind her that we all make mistakes but that doesn’t make us bad people. Similarly find time to praise behaviors that are appropriate, “I like the way you helped your sister”, “Thank you for putting your toys away”. When you treat your child with love and respect, her confidence will soar.

5. Allow your child to make her own choices. Start when she is young, and ask her simple questions like “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the yellow one?” “Would you like to take peanut butter and jelly or a bologna sandwich today?” These simple opportunities to make decisions and choices are a wonderful way to encourage your child to become an adult who is confident and able to make decisions independently of others.

Treat your child with respect, kindness, and with the understanding that you trust her to make good decisions and wise choices. Help her to realize that part of the learning process involves making mistakes sometimes, but those are merely opportunities to learn what not to do. This will this enhance her own confidence and self esteem, and she is much more likely to treat others in the same way. So starting in your own home with these simple exercises you can help to make the world brighter not only for your child, but for all who associate with her. What a great thought!

Author's Bio: 

Rosemary Holmes-Gull B.Sc., M.Ed., is the proud mom of two wonderful sons. She was in elementary education for 30 years, first as a teacher of young children and later in teacher education. She served for 10 years as the director of the Southern Nevada Writing Project (SNWP) in Las Vegas. The SNWP is a grass roots organization of teachers working to improve the teaching of writing in schools.
Now in her retirement she is following her passion to inspire and motivate through her writing. She has just completed her first book Imagine That: A Picture Book of Possibilities. Her oldest son, Bentley, provided the beautiful illustrations.

For more information about how to order the book please go to Rosemary’s website