11:20 16 October 2009
Bringing up a child is never without its hurdles for the parent and the child. But the secret to bringing up a happy well balanced child is in their self-esteem. Here are some simple tips you can use to enhance your child's confidence so that they become more assured and healthier young adults.
Let them be themselves
Many parents fail to recognise the importance of cherishing who their child really is. Let them be their own unique person, rather than trying to shape them into something you want.
Just because you'd love them to be the next British tennis champion, doesn't mean they will have any interest in the sport. You can damage their self-esteem by trying to force them down a route that is not their natural path.
Make it clear you love them
Do not withhold your love as a punishment. It may be tempting to suppress care, love and affection when you are angry with your child.
Children do need boundaries and appropriate discipline but it's completely inappropriate to say things such as, "I won't love you any more if you behave like that." A parent's love should never be in question despite being rightly frustrated or annoyed with a child's behaviour.
Ask for their opinion
It's easy to forget that your child has their own views on all sorts of subjects, so ask how they feel about things. You might even learn from them.
Asking for their thoughts on a television programme, film or, depending on their age, a news story will make them feel valued.
Praise good behaviour. It's easy to ignore a child who is playing happily alone while you get on with chores. Parent's often give children attention only when they're misbehaving.
Reverse this by taking time to compliment them on a beautiful drawing, or just to say: "Aren't you playing nicely?" By rewarding good behaviour you encourage more of it. In turn, this positive cycle makes them feel good about themselves.
Don't get jealous
Think about the role model you present when you complain about another family having better holidays, a bigger home or a better car.
This can breed envy in your child. Instead, be thankful for all you have. Emphasising the good, non-materialistic things you have in your life makes your child feel secure at home.
Give them self-respect
Teach your child appropriate boundaries within your home - and tell them how they can apply these outside. If you show your child that people can walk all over each other at home and never assert yourself, that's what your child comes to expect.
This means they are liable to be bullied at school and don't know how to assert themselves where necessary. Help them develop self-respect. Bullying has a very negative impact on a child's self-esteem.
Don't be dramatic
Children need to accept that bad, sad or difficult things occur in life. But don't over-dramatise every hurdle you face. When a parent reacts to a challenge with hysteria, it immediately teaches the child that the world is a frightening, horrible and impossible place.
By keeping calm and looking for solutions to the problem, issue or dilemma that you're facing, it will help your child develop the confidence to face whatever life throws at them.
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