Raising children who are well rounded and confident is daunting for parents in today’s society. Growing healthy human beings is the goal of every parent, but how can you raise a child with confidence and high self esteem while still keeping them grounded and aware of the world around them? I think every parent asks themselves how to do that!
Building confident children starts from birth. Read on to find out how you can foster confidence and positive self-esteem in your child at any age.
I’d like to share a little bit about my daughter, who is now a tween. When she was young, I was asking myself the very question I presented in this article. Luckily, I know a wonderful woman and mother, Rhonda, with a daughter who happens to be my daughter’s best friend. When our daughters were five, Rhonda proposed that our children throw a pajama party with the goal of having fun, but also doing good for others. Everyone invited to the party was to bring brand-new pajamas and a book to donate to a local charity for children. All the children at the party also made handmade bookmarks to go with the gifts and cards. Everyone had a great time and learned about the joy of giving to someone less fortunate. This was also a great way to boost our children’s self-esteem!
Throughout our girls’ years since then, they’ve done countless activities to give back to the community. Remember the earthquake in Haiti? Our daughters, nine years old at the time, did a fundraiser at their school (of about 130 students) and raised more than $700! They took the initiative and conducted the entire fundraiser on their own!
10 Activities to Build Self-Esteem in Your Children:
- Help your child be in control of their emotions. Remind them that every emotion is OK! Everyone gets happy, sad, angry, excited, etc. Children need to learn that every emotion is normal and healthy. The Anger Box is a genius idea for children to learn ways to calm down on their own!
- Play games together—and don’t let your child always win! Make the goal of the game to be enjoying each others’ company and spending time together. Just knowing you value them enough to be spending time together playing games is going to build self-esteem.
- Spend some time volunteering. You can volunteer places such as soup kitchens, thrift stores or the humane society. Have a younger child who can’t handle structured volunteering yet? Try throwing on some gloves and picking up trash in your neighborhood.
- Set goals together and post them somewhere where you will see them daily. You can set individual and family goals! Some family goals to build self-esteem and relationships might be eating dinner together at the table five times a week or setting aside two hours one day a week for a game night!
- Affirm your children in very specific ways. Don’t give empty praise such as “Good job,” tell your child what they did well—”I can see you worked very hard at putting your toys away!” or “You made a great choice by trying new vegetables tonight!”
- Try to find ways to put things in the positive. Children hear “No!” far too often. Instead of saying, “Stop jumping on the couch!”, say, “The couch is for sitting. Please sit down!”
- Give choices from an early age. Giving choices where there isn’t a wrong answer builds confidence for when children are presented choices in the real world. Wonder what choices a one-year-old can make? How about holding up two shirts and letting them choose the red or blue shirt (also a great way to teach colors). For older children, you can offer choices such as:
Do you want to have broccoli or spinach with dinner tonight?
Do you want to do the dishes or clean the bathroom?
- Allow your child to do things independently. Don’t jump in every time they stumble or even ask for help. I’ve often said, “Just a minute” when a child asks me for help only to see them solve the problem on their own!
- Plan for structured and unstructured activities. It’s great for your child to choose activities such as dance and sports to be involved in. But don’t forget, it’s just as important for your child to have some time for play or down time. This is the time when they’ll really get to know what they are all about as individuals.
- Address your child by name. Sounds silly, I know, but many children come up with nicknames or call their children “honey” or “sweety” often. It’s fine to call your child those names sometimes, but children often hear their “real” name only when they’re in trouble! How many times have you called your child by first, middle and last name when they’re in trouble? How about when they’ve done something spectacular? So whether your child’s name is William or Catherine, make it a point to say their whole name as you address them daily!