Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Are You Helping or Hurting Your Child’s Self-Esteem?

What does it take to raise competent, good-natured children who can feel a healthy respect for themselves?

Research has shown over and over that good parenting involves two basic components. One will not surprise you, but the other one may catch you off guard.

We are very aware today that children develop different, independent personalities and temperaments. Although they are genetically connected and influenced, they are not fully formed by their parents.

Nevertheless, parents need to get back on track regarding what children’s self-esteem is really all about.

What are the parenting ingredients that make for good self-esteem? 
First, good parents are;

  • warm and sensitive to a child’s needs. 
  • understanding of their child’s positive as well as negative feelings. 
  • comforting in times of crisis and pain, as well as appreciative in times of triumph. 
  • willing to recognise and celebrate accomplishments. 
  • supportive of a child’s individuality and 
  • encouraging of his or her child's growing independence.

Good Parents are Also Demanding (Fair and Disciplined)
What we often overlook, though, is that good parents are also demanding. Also known as being fair and disciplined, but not punitive.

NOT Recommended
They clearly communicate high expectations for their children’s behaviour but must realise and accept that their expectations may not be realistic.

Good parents recognise good behaviour and achievements, and ensure that these behaviours are appreciated and reinforced when they occur.

On the other side, when the kids act up Mum and Dad respond with firm and fair limits. It is vital that any corrective response is not delivered with fits of temper or righteous indignation.

After a child makes a mistake, the parents’ message is, “I understand your reasons for doing that but it was wrong, selfish or poorly thought out and I’m sure you know that and will do better next time.”

Parents whose child-rearing philosophy involves both warmth and “discipline” tend to produce competent and balanced children.

There are of course no guarantees, but children will have a better chance of becoming more self-reliant, self-controlled and happier.

They will have a better chance of being accepted and well-liked by their peers, and of having a real sense of belonging and participation.

Sometimes parents are distracted or have blinkers on. We’re busy, we don’t have, or take the time to do some of the things that will really foster self-esteem and help our children develop social skills as well as academic and physical competence.

Remember that your childrens’ self-esteem is ultimately going to be earned or not earned in the real world not in a cosseted family home or an imagined, over-romantic fantasy world.

Children Learn Better When They Have Known Boundaries
The demanding, disciplined part of the parenting equation implies not only that parents ask more of their children, but also that parents ask more of themselves.

Parents often doggedly follow the misguided belief that self-esteem and creativity are both higher when children can ‘do their own thing’ and when they are not exposed to external limits imposed by adults, but this can also be an excuse for not taking full parental responsibility for monitoring and managing childrens' actions.

Building the Berlin Wall
Children feel better about themselves, are more secure and perform better, creatively and otherwise, when they learn the boundaries for reasonable behaviour.

The world has all kinds of limits and rules, not all of which are known or recognised by children and parents are the ones who introduce and guide children through life’s boundaries.

How parents establish rules and set limits (or avoid /fail to set limits) has a tremendous effect on the self-esteem of a child.

Your kids will not like all the rules and regulations that you or the world imposes, but if they don’t recognize and work within these constraints, they will face disappointment and will get hurt repeatedly (more often mentally than physically) and sometimes the consequences will be severe (life changing).

However, not all self-esteem building strategies should be unpleasant or focus on hard, repetitive work.

One of the best “tactics” for encouraging healthy self-respect in children is FUN! 

We need to take time with our kids and we need to enjoy taking time with our children.

Keep in mind that one-on-one, face-to-face time and having fun together is one of the most potent self-esteem builders.

This means that one parent spends time with one child. Clearly, this will need organising if you have more than 1, 2 or more children.

Also, you cannot allow the excuse of 'work pressure' to stop or avoid this happening.

Busy people need good planning and busy people should Plan to spend time with your children! 

Children really like having a parent all to themselves. It makes them feel all the important feelings you want them to feel; loved, important, worthy, cherished, contented, etc.

Your Relationship With Your Child, require that parents be supportive and nurturing while at the same time they are expecting constructive behaviour as well as hard work from their kids.

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