Simple Ways to Boost Your Child's Self-Esteem

Dos and don'ts for raising a confident kid.

A positive sense of self is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Children with high self-esteem feel loved and competent and develop into happy, productive people. To help build your child's positive self-image as he grows, consider these dos and don'ts.

Do give children choices. Giving children choices -- within a reasonable set of options preselected by you -- makes them feel empowered. For example, at breakfast you might offer your child the option of eggs or pancakes. Learning to make simple choices while he's young will help prepare your child for the more difficult choices he'll face as he grows.

Don't do everything for her. Be patient and let her work things out for herself. For example, it may be faster and easier to dress your preschooler, but letting her do it herself helps her learn new skills. The more she meets new challenges, the more competent and confident she'll feel.

Do let him know no one is perfect. And explain that no one expects him to be. The way you react to your child's mistakes and disappointments colors the way he will react.

Don't gush or offer insincere praise. Kids are masters at detecting insincere praise or baseless compliments. Praise your child often, but be specific in your compliments so your words don't ring hollow. For instance, instead of reacting to your child's latest drawing with, "Wow, that's great. You're the best artist in the world," try something like, "I really like how you drew the whole family. You even included details like Daddy's beard."

Do assign age-appropriate household chores. Give children responsibility for tasks such as setting the table, walking the dog, and folding laundry. They'll increase their feelings of competency and bolster their problem-solving skills.

Don't draw comparisons between your children. Instead, appreciate each one's individuality and special gifts.

Don't call children names or use sarcasm to make a point. Never belittle your child's feelings. When you get angry take a short break so you don't say anything you'll regret. And keep in mind, you can dislike a child's actions without disliking the child. Be sure to illustrate the difference to your child.

Do spend one-on-one time with your child. Whether it's grabbing a bite to eat or taking a bike ride, try to schedule some alone time with your child at least once a week. This is a great opportunity to talk about what's on her mind and to cement the bond the two of you share.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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