Helping children build strong self-esteem is one of the most important tasks parents have.
Parents are fundamental reference figures for their children. It is the parents who exert the most influence when it comes to making them feel themselves. They are their source of comfort and security.
It is parents who help their children to see and understand each other. They give them the mirror to look at. This is why it is important to help them cultivate acceptance.
Children often need parental approval to be able to accept themselves. This need can manifest itself in a more or less intense way and can progress over the years without ever being satisfied.
When parents accept their children, valuing and truly appreciating them, they provide them with a psychological shield with which to protect themselves for life. If the child is not accepted, once an adult he will have to learn to give himself this acceptance.
Keep in mind that children learn from their parents, from their answers. If they are responses of love, affection and security, children understand that they are important and feel loved. It’s a first lesson in self-worth for developing good self-esteem. If, on the other hand, the parents’ reactions are one of contempt or indifference, then the children do not feel loved and are pervaded by despair.
Accepting, however, does not imply transforming children in one’s own image and likeness, but loving them for what they are, recognizing their values and their difficulties.
If we only care about how our children should be or hope to be, we do nothing but pass on to them a very rigid vision and an ideal that they must be inspired by.
Failing to recognize the potential of children can cause them to miss the opportunity to develop their self-esteem and worth.
It is very important for children to feel listened to and for parents to show interest in them. When we listen to someone, the message we send them is that they are important to us and that what they are saying interests us ; so that person interests us. It is not just a question of listening to the children, but also of involving them.
Recognizing and valuing children’s emotions is essential. If we judge their feelings as “wrong” or “negative” or have them repress or deny them, the result could be low self-esteem, insecure behavior and a loss of connection with feelings, thus a kind of emotional paralysis.
Keep in mind that it is possible to enjoy “good” feelings only when you can also express those that are unpleasant or annoying.
Consequently, telling children how they should feel, comparing them with others, giving them ridiculous or sarcastic answers, denying the existence of some of their feelings, or resorting to threats and punishment as a repercussion on their mood are completely wrong reactions. which lead to a single result: the denial of feelings.
To help children express and cope with their negative feelings, you need to :
– Encourage them to express their feelings in a safe environment of acceptance.
– Help them find ways to express themselves.
– Show them a situation in which we felt the same way to make them feel understood.
– Be good role models when it comes to dealing with intense feelings.
– Help them feel good in situations of defeat or disappointment.
Let’s not forget that one of the most powerful elements parents have at their disposal to strengthen their children’s self-esteem is language.
In every dialogue with our children, we reveal a part of our identity. This is why it is important to pay attention to the choice of words and tone of voice when addressing our children, opting for a language that strengthens their self-esteem.
The language of self-esteem provides a description of the child’s behavior without judgments or criticisms, thus detaching the value of his behavior. Also, it is accompanied by our reaction to what our child did, that is, we communicate how we feel or what we think about it. Finally, the language of self-esteem passes through the recognition of our child’s feelings, giving importance to his experience.
In conclusion, let’s not forget that, as parents, we are responsible for educating and developing the skills of our children so that they can survive in the world. The use of discipline is indeed necessary, but it must absolutely not affect self-esteem. It must be a means of creating a safe environment where children can learn and become autonomous.