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Parents are the most important people in their children’s lives. It is the parents that provide their children with the first definitions of themselves.

How children see themselves is often built on the basis of the parents’ and the other close people’s words. 
Parents’ every action, including words and gestures, shows the children who they are, how important they are and how they are perceived by the others.
The main goal of every parent should be to help their children develop a solid and stable sense of themselves. This starts in infancy by appropriate responding to a child’s signals. Having a solid foundation of self-esteem will allow them to perceive their talents and abilities accurately, look at their goals realistically, have an optimistic view of their lives and deal with the life’s ups and downs with flexibility. 

What does a good self-esteem include?

  1. a healthy view of yourself and a sense of self-worth
  2. a positive outlook
  3. feeling satisfied with yourself most of the time

How do you help your children build a good self-esteem?

Children are so inherently different from one another and that what is right for one child may be wrong for another. Each child should be looked at individually instead of searching for the “right” way to parent. 
However, there are some general rules that a parent must not get around.

Paying attention

Foundation for good self-esteem starts from the first days of your children’s lives. It is crucial to respond appropriately to the children’s signals for both fun and help. You need to relate to their need for interest and enjoyment as well as their feelings of distress and anger. 
Appreciate your child, tell them, show them you love them, and spend a lot of quality time with them. If you spend time together you must enjoy it or there is no point. Show appreciation at all times. Thanking them when they do something good is reward enough because children like to please.
Another important building block of self-esteem is a child’s feeling of competence. If they can’t accomplish something; they will seek your help. If you fail to see and respond to these calls, the children may begin to think that their problems don’t matter and their feelings don’t count. If you, on the other hand, respond to their distress, you will help them build the needed confidence. 

Reward and praise

Reward and praise are excellent motivators, much healthier than fear and shame. 
Children need to hear how much you approve of them and their actions. They see the world of you and want to be like you. They need your looks of approval and love.
But do not exaggerate.  They can only get confused by excessive and especially by false praise. Further more, they have a way of knowing if they have truly earned your acclaim or if you are manipulating them. Self-esteem is built by realistic praise.
Do not praise them if they made a mistake or haven’t accomplished their goal. Instead, explain that they have done well and can do even better next time. Acknowledge their feelings of dissatisfaction and help them perform better next time instead of praising their dissatisfaction statements. 
Criticizing is good. It can be uncomfortable but it could also motivate changes. However, you should never criticize your child’s traits, only their actions. Be specific with explaining what they did wrong, the pros and cons and the reasons and rationales for whatever issue may be at stake. 
Offer Protection
Nothing helps a helpless child more than knowing they can depend on you to protect them from danger and distress. If they perceive the world as threatening, they will never be able to feel courageous and make their way through the ups and downs. You should let them express their signals of distress and remove the triggers and set them free but make them know they always have a safe place to return to. This will definitely boost their confidence.  

You should also:

  • Encouraging your children to make choices
  • Foster independence 
  • Give importance to their opinions
  • Feed them with positive encouragement and encourage them to try new and challenging activities
  • Help them deal with failure
to boost their esteem. After all, this is how we all would like to be treated, isn’t it?
Make sure your children don’t feel a failure. Teach them that there are no failures, only temporary setbacks. Your child should never be told that they have failed, that they have let you down and that they cannot succeed. Instead, show them you believe in them and their success. 

Last but not least: discipline and setting limits

Children who are not disciplined tend to feel more dependent and out of control and can not grow up with high self-esteem.
You should practice positive discipline. Using only negative consequences and negative talk (constant no’s) with your children will teach them to behave but may develop little internal self-esteem. 
It is crucial to remember not to get across more than three discipline points at the time. Constant hearing of the “NO” word may be interfering with the growing self-esteem and you also need to be consistent with discipline and it’s hard to be consistent with more than three discipline situations.
Remember that responding to your child signals will prevent the cycles of frustration, hurt, and anger threatening to interfere with the parent-child relationship and erode the child’s internal world.  The child who fails to develop a solid sense of self may become an angry, intolerant, defensive, withdrawn, self-destructive and fearful individual. Lack of self-esteem may also lead to other less pleasing personality traits and leave the person depressed, depleted, and drained. 
The so called positive parenting will help your child to grow into a unique and self-confident person and enable you to fully enjoy each other’s company and deepen your friendship.