Self-esteem. 7 parenting strategies
We all hope our children have high self-esteem. How do they gain it? Well the good and bad news is that we as parents play a big part. It’s not that hard; we just need to know what to do; then do it as often as we can.
Today I post because Ben passed away 6 years ago. He was eight. Sweet, gentle and very affected by the environment. He was outgoing and bubbly with those he liked; quiet and withdrawn around anyone he sensed as angry. On these memorial days I feel compelled to advocate on behalf of young children, particularly those with a more sensitive temperament, those that are crushed by a harsh word from mum or dad.
Through research, personal parenting experience and mentoring families I have 7 parenting strategies to build childhood self-esteem and enrich family life. These tips may lead you to feel at times that you are doing all the bending and accomodating for your highly sensitive child. Rest assured as their brain and body matures this won’t always be the case. What you will do is lay the foundation for strong emotional health and build a wonderful relationship of mutual respect that will stand you in good stead for the teenage years.
I know behaving this way isn’t alway possible, we are after all human, but as Maggie Dent says, “Aim for 80% of the time.”
Be present.- When they want to speak or engage put what you are doing down and give your full attention. If not possible immediately, tell them when and let them know you are keen for the chat. This tells you child they are valued and important.
Control your own negative emotions. Take a minimum of 5 deep breaths. Challenge your thoughts; “Why does he have to make such a big mess. Because he is a kid lacking fine motor control AT THIS STAGE.” This limits unreasonable demands and preserves your young child’s fragile self-esteem.
Be empathetic when they are upset NO MATTER WHAT THE REASON. “I can see you are so upset that you can’t have another ice cream. I know it is really difficult because they taste so great don’t they!” This quickly deescalates negative emotion.
Give choice where possible. “Would you rather get ready for grandma’s now or in 5 minutes?” This encourages co-operation and self-esteem through autonomy.
Reteach when they behave poorly rather than punish or criticise. Wait until their overarousal and high emotions have settled. “What can you do next time to get the toy from your sister? Perhaps ask her kindly.” This teaches that mistakes are a learning opportunity rather than a source of shame or evidence of failure.
Maintain a light hearted approach. Nothing is do or die other than life and death. “Oh well never mind. We are a bit late for school sometimes things don’t go to plan. Will we get up 10 minutes earlier next time? This promotes co-operation for a collective good and avoids angst over unnecessary issues.
Have fun- Use humor (never directed at your child ). Take the pressure off everyone in the family. Most kids grow up to be responsible adults particularly those with a highly sensitive temperament so remember to smile and laugh with your child. This encourages a child to relax and feel free to be who they are not who they “ought to be.”
Wishing you happy, connected parenting.