8 Great Ways for Parents to Help Children Build a Positive Self-Image

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Studies show that children with a positive self-image are more likely to achieve success in school when they are young, and later in life when they are adults. Parents are the first and most important influencers in their children’s lives. Every day, parents are given many opportunities to instill values and help their children become thriving, happy people.

Here are eight simple ways for parents to accomplish this goal:

Provide a loving and nurturing environment

In order to build self-esteem and develop a positive self-image, children need to feel safe and loved. It is the parents’ responsibility to provide a home environment where a child does not feel endangered. Practice compassion as you interact with your children.

Be generous with praise and encouragement

Try to praise three times for every constructive criticism. Experts frown on blanket praise like, “You’re terrific!” Children are motivated to look for new challenges when they actually master tasks and skills and develop a true feeling of self-worth. A parent might say instead, “I just tried a piece of the bread you helped mom make and it is delicious. I know it took a long time to knead the dough. Did your hands get tired?”

Be a positive role model

Children watch what we say and what we do. They are wonderful mimics. Parents can take advantage of this by behaving responsibly and kindly with friends and family. If you are overcharged at the register when shopping in the store, point out the error to the cashier calmly instead of losing your temper and shouting. Children need to see how we react in positive and negative situations.

Create structure in their lives

Create structure in their lives where they are allowed to make decisions, learn about the consequences of their decisions, accept responsibilities, earn the trust of others, and develop self-discipline. Structure helps eliminate the chaos that reigns in a disorganized home. Set up family meetings where the opinions of everyone are considered with respect. Even young children can help plan a vacation or family outing. Everyone in the family should be responsible for age-appropriate chores.

Discipline the behaviors

Parents should expect appropriate behavior from their children. When children misbehave, they should be told and corrected, instead of yelling that they are stupid (if they forgot to turn off the light) or clumsy (if they dropped a dish).

Teach your child to set goals and reward their accomplishments

We all need a cheering committee and parents are a child’s most important fans! Parents can help their children set goals (keep their room clean, have homework finished by a certain time, help take care of a pet). If a child puts in good effort but doesn’t succeed in reaching the goal, parents can be supportive and encouraging. When the goals are finally reached, there can be an appropriate reward…a gold star on a goal chart, an extra book read to them at bedtime. Rewards don’t have to cost money because what our children want most is our attention, our time and our love.

Encourage all aspects of learning

Encourage all aspects of learning – reading, writing, hobbies, adventure activities and sports. Young children learn at an amazing pace. Parents can open new worlds to their children by taking them to museums, art galleries, sporting events, library programs, parks and playgrounds. Some cost money, but many are free. The most important way to encourage a love of learning is to encourage a love of books. Parents can read with their children and should also be seen reading by their children.

Be an active participant in their lives!

Parents need to spend positive time with their children. This tells a child he is valuable and loved and appreciated…all important components of a positive self-image. Don’t try to divide your attention when reading a story or playing a game with your children. Children should be treated with the respect and care that would be given to a treasured friend.