By Guest Blogger Stacy Leighton
So far, your child’s teacher has said IQ tests and classroom assessments show that he is right where he needs to be. Perfect, right? Well, no. How is his self-esteem? Also known as their EQ, or Emotional Quotient. The other “stuff” puts him in the game, but his self-esteem is what take him across the finish line.
Studies show that in two children with the same IQ, the one with the healthier self-esteem will be twice as successful.
Here are 11 things parents can do to build their child’s self-esteem:
1. Be bold!
Encourage your children to try new things. Moving outside our comfort zone, even in baby steps, builds self-confidence. Children with healthy self-esteem seek the challenge and stimulation of worthwhile and demanding goals.
2. Teach them how to make (and keep) good friends.
Examples might be: Find something in common, include others, respect their space, stuff and opinions, say you’re sorry when you need to, and be kind. People with healthy self-esteem are tolerant and respectful of others.
3. Children make mistakes, and sometimes it’s hard for us to stand back and allow those life’s lessons.
If it is not harmful to themselves or others, hold your breath, bite your tongue and let them. You’ll be available to brainstorm better choices for next time.
4. “Do not pass go, do not collect $200.”
Sometimes our decisions have consequences. Encourage them to accept the consequences for their actions, without enabling or excusing. People with healthy self-esteem are responsible, because they were given responsibility.
5. We are going to get mad, but what we do with it, well, that’s learned.
Help them to identify their emotions and ways to deal with them appropriately.
6. Empower children with the tools to resolve their own conflicts.
One teacher created a “solution wheel” for classroom conflicts. The wheel had an option in each of the 9 pie-shaped sections. They were: Walk Away, Apologize, Make a Deal, Wait and Cool Off, Go to another activity, Talk About It, Take Turns/Share, Ignore It, or Tell Them to Stop. The child spins the wheel for a conflict resolution solution or simply chooses a technique to try.
7. Where do we go when we’re feeling low?
Have your child decorate a shoe box, label it “I Can.” Help them fill it with index cards, each naming something they are really good at. When they are feeling low, they can look through this box to restore their self-esteem.
8. People with healthy self-esteem demonstrate integrity.
Talk about the importance of integrity, point out occasions when people do the right thing, simply because it is the right thing to do.
9. Catch them doing something right.
Praise their good judgment. People with healthy self-esteem are self-motivated, willing to trust their judgment, and less likely to follow the bad judgment of others.
10. Avoid public criticism and give authentic compliments—and be specific.
“I like your picture” becomes “I like the way you used all the colors in the box to draw this picture. It is very colorful and creative!”
11. Model your own self-esteem.
Children are always watching, looking to us to see not only how we treat others but also how we treat ourselves. Avoid being openly critical of yourself or putting yourself down. If you make a mistake, own it, apologize, and show your willingness to try again. By being good to yourself, you are teaching them to be good to themselves, too.
Can you add to this list? What other tips do you have to help build your child’s self-esteem?
*This article was reprinted with permission from Forsyth Family magazine