Developing a healthy self-esteem in your child makes a big difference to your child's life. It is like his shield as he faces the many challenges in the world where he lives in. It builds self-confidence and brings out the best of his abilities. As parents, you can play an important role in promoting and harnessing your child's self-esteem.

Self-esteem is how we accept and value ourselves unconditionally

A person with healthy self-esteem accepts himself for who he is. He has self-confidence and has a positive outlook of life and is able to overcome most of life’s challenges. On the other hand, a person with low self-esteem tends to focus on his shortcomings and has a negative outlook of life. He also feels that he has little control over the changes which occur in his life.

Healthy self-esteem should be inculcated from young as this will help our children recognise their strengths and capabilities, adopt a positive outlook of life from an early age and prepare them to cope with the challenges that may come their way as they grow up.

Children with low self-esteem may have difficulty dealing with and managing problems. They easily get frustrated and think they are not good at anything.

Here are some ways that we, as parents, can help boost our children’s self-esteem.

Spend time with them

Making time for our children will make them feel that they are important to us. Have fun and do activities together like watching a movie or playing ball games which they enjoy.

Be attentive to what they say

Give our children
full attention and listen to them. Ask them about their friends, teachers and the activities they do in school to find out how they are coping. Offer them advice or help where appropriate.

Be generous with praises

Children are often reprimanded for what they have done wrong and seldom praised for good behaviour. As a result, they may come to believe that they can never be good enough.
Praise them whenever they have done a good deed no matter how small it is. For example, 'you have kept your books properly, good job!'. This will help to reinforce positive behaviours in them and build their self-esteem.

Avoid labelling

disciplining our children, avoid using words like lazy, naughty or stupid as they do not tell them what the acceptable behaviour is and may lead them to believe that they can never be good enough. Instead, correct our children s negative behaviours by explaining how inappropriate their action was. Telling them that you love them but do not like their behaviour can make them more mindful of their actions.

Have realistic expectations

Avoid comparisons and do not make them feel like a failure when they do not do well. This will lower their self-morale and self-worth which may in turn make them less eager to learn and less motivated to try their best. Instead, praise them for their efforts and discuss how to improve their performance step by step.

Teach them to think positively

It is important to teach our children to be positive and optimistic when faced with difficulties. This helps to boost their self-esteem and self-confidence as well as help them recover from setbacks and failures, and continue to be motivated to work hard.

Focus on their strengths

Help our children explore their strengths. Encourage them to try different activities and hobbies. Explain to them that different people have different strengths and are good at different things and they should be proud of what they are good at.

Encourage decision making and independence

Entrust our children with manageable tasks to complete by themselves. Praise them when they finish their tasks. This will make them feel good about taking up such responsibilities. Assure them of their support should they encounter problems or make wrong decisions. This will help build their self-confidence and independence as they learn from their experiences.

Contributed by:
Health Promotion Board's Parent Hub