June 10, 2021

Self-esteem, as you read in the previous post, comes and goes—sometimes all of us feel good about ourselves and sometimes we don’t. Therefore, we need to teach resilience to build child’s self-esteem so that they develop the skills to overcome moments of self-doubt and spiraling thoughts. Here are the first 3 steps from the previous article to take when your child says the dreaded words, “I’m ugly”:

  • Step 1: Instead of Over-Reacting, Use Time-In Parenting Techniques
  • Step 2: Become a Feelings Detective
  • Step 3: Find Out What’s Underneath “I Don’t Feel Pretty”

Step 4: Empower Your Child to “Climb Out of the Rabbit Hole”

If your child is stuck in a pit of bad feelings and thoughts, you can say, “I see you fell down the Rabbit Hole. There are steps on the ladder, and I’ll show them to you so you can climb out.”

By talking it out and working through the hard feelings step by step, and encouraging your child to recognize positive things about themselves, you are empowering them to climb out.

Step 5: Building Child’s Self-Esteem by Focusing on the Positive

Ask your child, “What do you like about yourself, inside and outside?” Be sure to praise their efforts. They may forget the good things they’ve done, focusing instead on whatever went wrong. Remind them of the many things that make you proud of them. Ask, “What are you good at? What do you love to do? What would like to do better? What do you want to learn that you haven’t tried yet?”

Try taking your child to the mirror and actually having them point out what they love about themselves inside and outside, focus on inner qualities. (Kind Heart etc). If it’s hard, start by saying “I love your ________.  What do you love?”

Step 6. Problem-Solving and Developing New Skills

At a certain point, just talking isn’t enough… you and your child need to develop new skills and devise ways to deal with problematic situations.

After talking and figuring out the exact problem, ask your child, “How can we solve this together?” The older the child, the less you’ll need to offer suggestions. The solution may include spending more time alone with you or your partner, for example.

Once you discover what’s underlying your child’s distress, it doesn’t have to evolve into a life-long depression or self-esteem issue. You can rest assured that most upsets are rooted in unexpressed emotions, and have nothing to do with their looks. Whatever the situation, you now have at your fingertips the tools to help them identify and deal with their feelings correctly. The next time this happens, repeat these 6 steps, and before you know it, your child will learn how to “climb out” themselves!

Become Conscious of the Example You’re Setting

One of the best things you can do to promote a positive self-image for your child is to set a good example. Express appreciation for who you are, how you look, and don’t talk about what you weigh. Your child watches you like a hawk and often does what you do, not what you say.

Be honest —how often do you say, “Oh, I look awful today,” or “I gained two pounds, I hate myself.”? We tend to repeat these phrases out of habit, but they have much more impact on children hearing them often. Speak nicely to yourself in the mirror, and make positive changes in your own life, for example by eating more healthy foods, so your kids will follow in your footsteps.

Quick Self-Esteem Boosters

Did you and your child have a disagreement in which feelings got hurt? Here is a great way to help you both feel better:

  • “I’m sorry that I said ______ and hurt your feelings.
  • Say, “I really love it when you __________.
  • Say 5 nice things that each of you likes about the other.

Another great way to boost your child’s self-esteem, and simultaneously teach them to handle their feelings, is to take mini-breaks with them during the day. In 5 minutes, you can point out what they are doing right, or address an emotion you think they’re experiencing, such as feeling neglected, left out, happy, or excited. This will help them to not only identify how they feel but to learn that they can turn to you when they need help working through hard feelings.

Kids need the reassurance of your unconditional love. So instead of saying, “Why can’t you be good?” or comparing them unfavorably to someone else, learn to say, with great frequency, “I love you no matter what you do.” You can add, “What can we learn to do better?”

Celebrate the positive, rather than simply providing encouragement for nothing. Explain, “I believe in you. Keep going. I know it’s hard.” Reward them so they develop incentives and begin to internalize a sense of approval.

Every one of your children needs a few minutes alone with you to talk and play. However many kids you have, multiply that by five minutes or ten minutes each day, and let them know that it’s their special time. Use those moments to establish a dialogue, and soon they’ll feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns.

… written by Ava Parnass and Jessica Marr.