Self esteem is a fragile thing, and raising kids with good self esteem can be quite a task. Kate Kelly, Managing Editor of American Baby Magazine, has some tips.
The first step to self esteem is creating a routine for your child. "When a child know what's going to happen next... his mind is free to focus on other things... His mind is free to focus on learning new skills, like learning to walk," says Kelly. Even if your days are hectic, try to create a bed-time routine. Give your child a bath, read a book, sing a song and then turn out the light. By doing these few things at the same time every day, you're giving your child confidence.
Also, be responsive to your children. This is often done automatically with new parents; just taking care of your child reinforces trust and a gives them a sense of security. "Responding to those needs tells baby that you understand him and that he is important - he is worth of having his needs met," says Kelly.
Offering encouragement can boost your child's confidence too. More importantly, though, encourage persistence. Remember, everything is new to your baby. Even a task that seems simple to you, like walking or solving a block puzzle, is a challenge to your child. Instead of comforting your child at ever stumble or road block, encourage them to keep trying until they get it right. Say things like, "You're so close! Let's try it again!" instead of "Oh, it's okay. Don't be upset that you fell down."
When your child does accomplish something, be sure to praise them - but not too much. Kelly says offering too much praise loses its meaning after a while. "You're building your child up to have an unrealistic view of her abilities, which is not going to hold true when she goes to school or enters the world of sports," says Kelly.
Instead of praising every small milestone, pick specifics that really impressed you. For example, if your child shows your a drawing they made, say things like, "Wow! I love the way your colored in the lines!" instead of "Wow! That's a great picture!" By praising specific skills, you show your child that their efforts really do matter.
Finally, remember that mistakes are good. Mistakes are how your baby learns! "You really need to resist the urge to rush in and rescue," says Kelly. Allowing your child to figure something out for themselves gives them a great confidence boost. Helping them with a challenging task robs them of that "lightbulb" moment. Give help where help is needed. Otherwise, let your child struggle a bit. Their hard work will pay off in the end.
For more information on raising confident kids, as well as additional parenting advice, click here to visit www.AmericanBaby.com.
By Erin Petrun
Copyright 2008 CBS. All rights reserved.