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10 Tips for Raising a Child with High Self-Esteem

10 Tips for Raising a Child with High Self-Esteem

Every parent dreams of raising a child who is confident but not cocky, who is self-assured but sensitive, and who feels empowered to make choices and follow their passions. Even if, as parents, we suffer with low self-esteem ourselves, there is much we can do to enable our children to learn to love themselves and to be an active participant, rather than an observer, in their own lives.

1. Start with you

Our children learn far more from what we do rather than the lessons we try to teach them. In the way we conduct ourselves each day, we teach our children how to be. We act as role models and inspire our children. So if we model high self-esteem, our children are more likely to develop high self-esteem too. For those of us with low self-esteem this can make us worry that we’re doomed to pass on feelings of self-doubt and negativity to our children, but that needn’t be the case. Whilst we can’t fundamentally change our personalities overnight, we can think carefully about the way in which we portray ourselves each day. We can think about what we choose to say aloud. We can make a conscious effort to present the best version of ourselves.

When we’re struggling with issues of self-negativity, a good way to redress the balance is to try and see yourself through your child’s eyes. When they are young, kids tend to adore their parents unconditionally. Don’t question it, embrace it, and try to channel the parent your adoring child sees whenever self-doubt creeps in.

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2. Tackle negative self-talk

When we talk badly about ourselves, it reinforces low self-esteem. Again, we should start with ourselves here and make a conscious effort not to talk badly of ourselves. It’s remarkable how often self-critical phrases creep in when you listen out for them. Additionally, any time we hear our child talk negatively about themselves, we should question it. Ideally we should not just dismiss their concerns, but rather provide evidence to the contrary, or balance negative self-talk with meaningful compliments.

3. Give feelings names

When we struggle with difficult thoughts and feelings, it can really pull down the way we feel about ourselves and our place in the world around us. When we give these feelings names and are able to explore them, it can help us to understand and manage them, reducing their impact on how we feel about ourselves. Help your child to understand the different ways they feel, both physically and emotionally, so that your family has a shared language for both positive and negative experiences, which will enable open sharing and support.

4. Listen

As well as helping your child to name their feelings, you need to give them an opportunity to talk about them. This can work best if we get into a habit of listening early on. If we build listening into our daily routine, our child gets used to being heard and will more readily share with us at specific points each day. This will enable us to understand what’s going on in our child’s life as well as tackle difficulties and misconceptions early on before negative thoughts and feelings become entrenched and embedded.

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5. Be a stable base

Whether your child is a toddler or a teenager, they need a stable base from which to explore the world. They need to understand the rules you set and be able to predict likely outcomes from their actions. They need to be able to rely on you to look out for them and to support them. Once they know that they can rely on you, they’ll be ready to walk away and become more independent and self-assured.

6. Let your child spread their wings

Watching our children grow more independent is one of the most nerve-wracking things we ever go through as parents. However, if we want our children to develop self-confidence and assurance, we need to have the confidence to let them go. We can’t live their lives for them, we need to provide them with the tools and encouragement they need to go out and take risks, make mistakes, and reap the rewards of starting to find their own place in the world.

7. Celebrate uniqueness and diversity

Show tolerance of others in all that you say, and celebrate what makes each member of your family unique. Never expect children to live up to expectations set by siblings, nor to fulfill your own childhood dreams. Instead, help them to develop their own skills and talents and enjoy these individual differences.

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8. Empower decisions that have impact

Let your child see that they make a difference in your family. Talk to them and listen to what they have to say. Invite their opinions on decisions both big and small, like what should we eat for dinner? Where should we go on holiday? Also, be prepared to listen to and act on their answers. This way your child learns that their view is valued and that they can be an active participant in family life.

9. Be honest about your mistakes

There are few mistakes we cannot learn from. You teach your child a far more valuable lesson when you hold your hands up and say you got something wrong. They can look for the learning there, better than when you try to portray an image of perfection each day.

10. Don’t forget to say “I love you”

Finally, we need to remember to show and tell our kids that we care about them. As parents, the love we feel can overwhelm us. It might seem impossible that our children could fail to know that they are loved; however, you should never assume your child knows how much you love them. Instead make an effort to show  it and say it out loud. We all know how good it feels to be loved. This is no different for a child. Actually, it can be an important bedrock of self-esteem, as well as making family life just that little bit more pleasurable each and every day.

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Featured photo credit: Let’s do – Latteda via albumarium.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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