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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 August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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