Kids can be incredibly perceptive and sensitive. It can be shocking sometimes to realize just how much they observe of the world around them. This means that anything from watching the news to being around a toxic or abusive relationship can dramatically influence their outlook and their self-esteem. However, there is also a lot you can do to improve and increase your kid’s self-esteem and it all begins with how you speak to them.
Be careful not to over-praise them.
Most people assume that heaping praise on their children is the best wat to make them feel better about themselves. However, it is important to remember that it isn’t always about automatically being the best. A lot of self-esteem comes from feeling competent and capable of handling different situations, so it is more important to provide kids with the tools they need to navigate life rather than always telling them they are the best.
Constant praise can also have detrimental effects because some kids will interpret it as a sign that they have already reached perfection and don’t need to work harder and others will take it as pressure to continue to be perfect. Don’t set impossible standards and don’t go overboard with praise. It is good for them to fail and learn from their mistakes. Not everything has to be or should be a triumph.
Don’t use name-calling or sarcasm.
Parenting can be a thankless job full of countless frustrations throughout the day, but losing your temper just isn’t an option. No matter how much you think your kids simply brush off an outburst and forget about the things you said, your words impact how they think and feel about themselves. Even if they don’t fully understand each word you used, it isn’t hard to interpret the gist of what you meant. Kids aren’t able to rationalize that you were probably just angry and didn’t mean what you said. They take it all in, so when you feel your temper reaching a critical point, find a way to take a break before you end up saying something you will regret.
These moments also provide the perfect opportunity to teach your kids how to better express their feelings. After you have a moment to calm down, talk through your feelings and encourage them to do the same. This will help them find a balance between expressing and controlling their feelings, which will make them feel more empowered when they do feel aggravated or uncomfortable.
Use their name often.
It is a simple gesture that makes a big difference. By simply using your child’s name when you address them, you are helping them develop a clear sense of self. This helps instill in them the idea that they are their own unique individual worth getting to know. Kids will also mirror this behavior and feel more comfortable addressing adults, which can be a powerful tool when they need to ask for help.
It is important not to underestimate how much your kids absorb. Even when you think you are doing your best to shield them from a difficult situation or your own anxiety, they can sense when something is wrong. That makes it ever more important to be conscious about the way you speak to them and to nurture their self-esteem.