By Donna de Levante Raphael
Pride Parenting Columnist
A child’s self-esteem is developed from the comments, interactions, body language and tone of voice, encouragement and feedback they get from their parents as early as infancy. Puberty is often the most difficult time for girls’ self-esteem, Girls will do better during those years if they develop solid self-esteem in early childhood. Here are some suggestions parents can start doing today:
Stop yelling/Watch your wording: Frequent yelling has a very negative impact on self-esteem. Lower your voice and speak in a way that separates the behaviour from the child. For example, if she is running and breaks a vase, don’t say, “Bad girl! You are so careless!” This is attacking the child’s character. Instead say, “This behavior is unacceptable and it was not a good choice to run with a vase. What do you think we should do to clean up and replace it?” Allow the child to feel responsible by helping to fix the situation.
Praise, don’t put down: Children believe what we say about them, so fill them up with positive feedback. If a girl feels she is always being corrected, she will most likely become withdrawn and sullen. Don’t worry about spoiling a child with positive comments—they will only make your daughter feel more confident.
Find their strengths: Girls who do not feel they are good at something often have low self-esteem. Try a team sport or sign up for a girls’ after-school program that teaches leadership skills.
Help them voice their feelings: Even better than hearing positive feedback from others is being able to come up with her own feelings of why she feels good. This develops lasting internal self-esteem. Ask, “How did you feel about your soccer game?” or “What did you feel good about today?” At the end of the day, ask them to tell you: one thing that made them feel proud about themselves, one thing that made their heart feel happy and one thing that they did to help someone else.
Model Good Self-Esteem: Parents, say positive things about your selves and accept compliments openly. Share that you think you did well on a presentation at work or that it felt good to help a friend move. This helps children learn that it is OK to openly feel these things about themselves. Also, if you are positive to your children but negative about yourself, this sends mixed messages. If mom puts herself down, they will model this behavior.
Former writer and publisher of the parenting magazine I-Parent and women’s magazine Cayman Woman. Currently working on editing a new parenting media site and releasing a parenting book. To contact Donna de Levante Raphael: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more parenting information visit -’Village Parent’ Facebook page. “Like” us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/VillageParent.