Be Your Child’s Secret Cheerleader: Building Self-Esteem in Children

When it comes to getting ahead in life confidence is key, and everyone loves the boost they get from receiving compliments. Shouting your children’s praises off the top of a rooftop and sharing their achievements on social media may seem like an obvious way to build their self-esteem, after all, there’s no harm in congratulating them when they complete their chores, right? As a parent you’re always going to be your child’s biggest fan, but sometimes it is necessary to hold back when dishing out the compliments and consider taking a more subtle approach to making them feel great about themselves.

 Overpraising your child can be damaging as it encourages children to think that they’re perfect and that they need to continue to be perfect in order to be valued. It sets a standard for your child that will be impossible for them to achieve, no matter how hard they try. This ultimately results in lower self-esteem, particularly as they grow up and realise that the chances of them becoming a world-renowned pop star because of their success in the year 3 talent show are pretty slim.

If you are going to compliment your child, sincerity is crucial. Make sure that you have a real reason to give the compliment and that the words you use are specific so that they don’t sound empty and hollow. You can’t tell your child that they’re the best footballer in the world, because both you and the child know that the statement simply isn’t true. What is more effective is something along the lines of, “wow, what a great match, I can see that you have really been working hard to improve since the last one!” Compliments like this are constructive and real, your child will notice the difference and appreciate the sincerity far more than being told that they’re the best at everything they put their hand to.

In general though, when it comes to boosting a child’s confidence, it is important to take a step back. It might be difficult at first, but it is essential that you let your child make their own age-appropriate choices, take healthy risks and see the outcome. Not only will this help your child feel empowered, but it will also begin to prepare them for the real world.

You can’t always rescue your child from failure, especially as they grow older, so teaching them how to deal with small hurdles when they are young will give them the confidence that they need to conquer the larger ones they will face in adulthood. Learning problem solving early on is vital to children’s development into happy and successful adults, so try to relax and give them the power of choice every now and then. You might be surprised at how competent they already are.

It’s okay to be your child’s biggest cheerleader, but when it comes to building long term self esteem you might want to consider hiding your pompoms behind your back every now and then.