“How ya doing cowboy.” I waited to see how Little M would respond. She tilted her head a bit and smiled at the well meaning farmer. “Good, but I’m a girl.” She waved, turned and skipped off to find her pumpkin.
Little M oozes self esteem. She’s clear on who she is and what matters to her. Her inspiring attitude is in part natural… some people are just born confident. Some of her confidence though, I will take a little credit for.
Building Self Esteem in Kids
Create fun, simple activities that you can do as a family. Once in a while (or always if you have a Little M) your kids might want to tweek your idea, or come up with their own. LET THEM! The lesson that their ideas are inspiring, possible and exciting for their parents is way more important than what you had planned… trust me.
Model self esteem
Oh boy… this can be a hard one! Kids are copy cats and they are paying far more attention to our actions than anything else. Imagine the impact of a parent who is strong and confident in themselves. Building self esteem in your kids can be simple as finding it yourself!
Squash the myth of perfection, let yourself and YOUR KIDS see that MOM and DAD are growing, learning and changing… just like they are.
Celebrate your successes and admit your failures. When you achieve something (even something that seems insignificant) give yourself a pat on the back and make sure the kids are in ear shot. “Wow, I really like this dinner! I’m glad I decided to try something new. I think it’s so yummy. Score one for Mom in the kitchen. Whoot Whoot!”
By establishing routines in your daily life you let kids know what to expect. When they can prepare themselves and move easily from one thing to the next it is an extra (and easy) boost in confidence.
When setting up routines make tasks as kid-friendly as possible. Let them approach challenges and learn new skills in the safety of their own space. This low risk independence will help them become comfortable with the process of trial and error.
Let your kids help with chores. They will learn new skills, spend time with you and get a special feeling of pride that hard work fosters.
Respect their choices
Make an I Like Me book. #7 on this list of 7 ways to improve your child’s self esteem is my favorite. Similar to the Positive Parenting Behavior Books we’ve made, this is s a great opportunity for your little one to share what THEY think is so wonderful about them.
Helping kids use conflict resolution is a great way to give kids the tools they need to solve problems, while embedding the idea that they are capable of handling themselves into their little brains. Win win!
Learn and Teach New Skills
Let your kids climb a tree, experiment with food, play in the mud or whatever else they are drawn to. These playful lessons are not only teaching them skills (far more than you can see) they are building their confidence to tackle more challenging problems in the future.
Start a garden or just grow a sunflower. Plants and gardens are a great way for kids to see the results of their hard work. They can be responsible for something and while they must be patient, often times progress is easy to observe.
Make an art journal, as a family or individually.
Use the PIE Approach to help your kids express their emotions. When kids feel safe and comfortable with their range of emotions they will feel more in control with their behavior. And that is a major self esteem builder!
In Raising a Creative Kid: Simple Strategies for Igniting and Nurturing that Creative Spark I focus an entire chapter on how important mistakes are for creativity. Knowing how to handle mistakes, accepting mistakes and learning how beneficial they are goes a long way towards confidence too.
How do you work on building self esteem in your little ones?