Is your son/daughter really hard on themselves? How do they cope with new or difficult situations? Do negative experiences have long lasting effects on your child? I invite you now to take time to observe and reflect on this – write down your findings so that you can begin to prepare a plan for change. Many parents are concerned that their child/children cannot see their strengths for themselves despite constant encouragement and praise from friends and family. In today’s article – I will outline five ways to help parents to facilitate an improvement in children’s self esteem.
1. Model the change that you wish to see
What kind of language do you use together as a family? Is it mostly positive or negative talk? Do you talk about things that you CAN do? Or CAN’T do? What kind of an outlook do you as a family have on life? School? Finances? Activities? Family time together? What kinds of things do you say? What messages are you portraying? Take some time to notice the messages being portrayed on a regular basis.
Children learn their behaviours from many sources – family, school, friends, their community, the internet, their own experiences etc. It is from others and their reactions to people and events that children make sense of the world. Be an inspiring role model for your children. Let them know that you feel good about yourself and that it is a beneficial and healthy way to think.
2. Create a Collage
Take time together to appreciate happy memories – in the moment and happy memories in the past. Print off photographs of happy, contented, proud, friendly, loving etc times and discuss them as experiences that are appreciated by you as a family. This activity is also an opportunity for children to develop their emotional awareness. Discuss as a family, these various activities that you chose together and printed off. Encourage them to become aware of times that they felt peaceful/patient/loved/fun etc. They can even write a sentence for the collage as a written memento. Display the collage in their bedroom or in an important family area in the house.
Similarly, you can assist your child to label difficult feelings – talk about them and discuss how you could deal with them in the future. Record these alternative options for future stressful situations that arise.
Self esteem is greatly impacted by a constant stream of negative self talk. Children (and adults!) say things like “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t do it”, “The others always do better than me”, “I’m no good at ___” etc. In life coaching, it is my job to discuss and recognise with the client this stream of negative self talk and change it to positive self talk (or affirmations). Children can say affirmations like “Whatever I do, I give my best” or “I have happy thoughts”. Repetition of these new positive beliefs change thought patterns – from negative to positive beliefs. The aim is for these thoughts to become a self fulfilling prophesy. These beliefs in turn, build on the child’s self esteem.
4. Treat mistakes as learning opportunities
Children WILL make mistakes – mostly because they are lacking the life experience! If they make the wrong decision however, look at it perhaps from a different angle next time. Ask -what can be learned here? How can you do things differently next time? This has a more positive impact on their self esteem than imparting blame. It puts the child in control of their efforts and decisions for the future.
5. Watch out for where negative influences are coming from
As I mentioned before, influences come from many sources. Teenage girls may be negatively impacted by beauty bloggers with all of the latest products, application ‘know how’ etc. Primary school children may be influenced by their friends’ belongings and the marketing of the latest trends in toys and games. Personally, I stopped listening to sad music (singer songwriter type songs) and it has made a huge impact on my happiness. If you catch the negative influences, perhaps you as a family can take a step away from them.
It is possible to make a big impact on children’s self esteem – when we become aware and take action. Times are changing. We are now dealing with the impact of TV, internet, school, social media etc. We do have the power however, to decide if we accept the messages they are giving us. I invite you to look critically at them and decide then how to deal with them.
If you are interested in this critical message about your child’s self esteem you could consider Family Coaching with me where I get to the core of your child’s negative self- beliefs and enable him/her to change them for that as a starting point. Contact me for more information. Thanks!