In honor of International Boost Self-Esteem Awareness Month, we wanted to reinforce why it is so important for self-esteem to be a priority not only for ourselves, but also for the children in our care. According to a <em>Washington Post</em> article, written in 2015, children fully develop their sense of self around age 5 and it is usually as strong as an adult’s. Despite this fact, self-esteem can change in either a positive or negative way depending on things like accomplishments as well as any kind of trauma. This is especially true as children age towards their teens. As an adult role model in children’s lives, it is important to lead by example as well as help children to see them in a positive light. To that end, here are just a few ways to help boost self confidence in your children (and yourself):
1. Turn Down the Volume on Inner Critics
We are all our own worst critics, the question is, how much criticism is too much? While it is important to be critical of things like our work, it is also important to realize that human error is real. When we make mistakes, our self-esteem can take a hit if we self-criticize too much. In the case of children, it is important to let them know that even though they made a mistake; they tried and can keep trying until they get it right.
2. Motivate in Positive Ways
Going outside of our comfort zones, or attempting something new will almost always guarantees some missteps or failures. To combat these situations, we shouldn’t beat on ourselves for failing. Instead, we should think of what a friend or parent would say to make us feel better. The same should be done for children, whether their parents are nearby or not.
3. Take Time for Self-Appreciation
This can be done in several ways. For example, writing down all the things accomplished during the day. Sometimes, simply looking in the mirror and saying good things about us in the morning or before doing something difficult can be a big part of boosting our self-confidence. Children may be too young to do these types of things. Instead, telling them works just as well. As they get older, try to teach them how to find ways to self-appreciate.
4. Look for Silver Linings
If something doesn’t happen the way we want to, it is very easy to get discouraged. Instead of allowing ourselves to give up, we should think about what can be gained from making a mistake. One of the best examples for this is also the most simple: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This speaks to the idea that failing means we can keep trying, learning from each attempt until we get it right.
5. Smile More
The simple act of smiling (even when we don’t feel truly happy) can improve our mood as well as the mood of those around us. The simple act of smiling takes significantly less muscles than frowning. On top of that, the endorphins released into our brains when we smile give us a surge of positive feelings that last all day.
6. Do Something Nice for Someone Else
When we do nice things for others, we build trust with those people and give ourselves better treatment as well. As the Golden Rule says: “Treat Others The Way You Want to Be Treated.” Some examples of simple ways to do this on a regular basis include holding the door for someone, being an active listener, and helping another person pick up something they dropped. By modeling these behaviors, children learn quickly that being kind to others has positive long term effects on their own self- esteem.