Here are some great tips to help build high self-esteem in your kids from our expert family therapist, Gary Unruh.
“Nothing I ever do works out. Why try?” That’s low self-esteem, a parent’s most dreaded, very long, eighteen-year job failure.
High self-esteem, on the other hand, is every parent’s desired gold-star achievement. “I accept life’s mixture of disappointments (no one’s perfect), changes, and fun times. Seems like anything worthwhile is hard work, and it’s slow as molasses to get things right. And, it’s mostly up to me to make things turn out. Through it all, the most the most important thing is to be kind to myself and others.”
What parents esteem (value) in their children ends up to being their children’s self-esteem: what they believe and feel about their competencies to deal with everyday life. In this article (part 1 of a three-part series) I will outline three rock-solid self-esteem beliefs, based upon over forty years of family counseling. (Future blogs will present part 2, Parenting Esteem-Building Tips; and part 3, How Children Cultivate Self-Esteem.)
- Life’s imperfect. Knowing, accepting, and successfully dealing with one’s imperfections without shame is a confidence builder. Expecting perfection stymies self-confidence and sets the stage for self-doubt: “You can be anything you want” (really?). Parents treating everyday defeats and failures as normal and nothing to fear provide the best basis for developing self-confidence, especially when children are encouraged to work out solutions themselves.
- Mistake correction starts with me. Blaming others is a natural instinct; who likes to be wrong? But with training, children can own their part of a problem first: “Okay, I called her stupid, and that’s when she tore up my drawing; I started it.” Most problems shrink when we first own our part. And the big benefit? Adults think it’s the best thing since apple pie. Love relationships and workplace problem-solving are much more successful.
- Achievement is hard and slow. Amie almost never cleans her room without a battle, but you can hardly get her away from texting. Doing fun things right now is another one of those natural instincts. It takes heavy-duty training from one year of age on to successfully establish the hard-work habit. Your child needs to experience every day how to stay with boring things like picking up toys or, later, sticking with homework. A teen being required to save money for a video system or a car is another example of hard-work training. And here’s some news to keep you motivated: hard work determines life successes more than IQ according to a number of studies.
Take-Home Lesson: Establishing real-life, independent coping skills ensures high self-esteem.