Being generous with praise and encouragement is an important way to help develop and build your child's self-esteem. Praising a child in front of others is especially empowering and praise can also be used to highlight personal character traits.
However, too much praise can sometimes be counter-productive to building self-esteem. A child who is continually 'over praised' may feel pressured not only to perform, but to also perform perfectly, immediately and constantly. Inappropriate use of praise may also result in a child continually wanting and needing the approval of others.
Praise rewards the person, but encouragement rewards progress and effort. Rarely can children be 'over encouraged' and continuous encouragement helps a child feel good about themselves and their ability to tackle a task or try to solve a problem. By all means praise your children often, but hopefully not at the expense of encouragement for trying and persevering... especially when they may feel they've fallen short of expectations or not achieved their desired result.
Ways to help develop your child's self-esteem
· Trust your child. Let them know you believe in them implicitly.
· Teach your child how to go about making decisions. Help him/her to clarify the problem, think about alternatives, brainstorm solutions, consider consequences and assess the eventual outcome.
· Offer choices so that your child can practise making decisions.
· Listen often. Where possible, try to be available when they want to talk (or agree on a special time later when you can give them your full attention).
· Validate their feelings and acknowledge that what they have to say is important, especially to you.
· Establish limits and be clear and consistent with discipline. A child who knows their limits and boundaries is more likely to feel secure if they understand what's expected of them.
· Listen and negotiate if a child objects to limits and boundaries. The final answer may still be no, but showing respect for their right to voice an opinion can be empowering.
· Introduce your child to adult time and activities so that he/she has opportunities to feel grown up and part of your world.
· Avoid ridicule and shame. If your child needs to be disciplined over an issue or action, criticising the behaviour, not the child, helps self-esteem from taking a dive.
· Help your child set goals and stick to them. Encourage them to follow through and complete the things they started.
· Celebrate your child’s successes and the things learned along the way.
· Accept your child for who they are and give unconditional love and support.
· Teach your child that sometimes they need to take a risk, and step outside their comfort zone to experience success. Help them assess what are healthy and appropriate risks.
· Allow your child to learn from his/her mistakes. Overprotecting a child or always racing to their defence (see my earlier post on helicopter parenting), denies them the opportunity to sort things for themselves and learn from experience.
· Encourage hobbies and interests so opportunities arise for your child to act independently and enjoy themselves without your intervention.
· Be your child's life coach.
How do you balance praise and encouragement with your child?
Camilla Fiorini is Communications Manager at Australian Scholarships Group (ASG). This information has been taken from KidsLife – ASG’s parenting resource website. Follow ASG on Facebook and Twitter for more information on parenting and education.