Self-esteem hygiene for parents, kids, and teens
Especially for preteen and teen girls, self-esteem is an essential part of mental health and well-being. It is a sense of self-worth and confidence in one's abilities and is crucial for a child's healthy development. As a parent or caregiver, there are many ways you can help boost your child's self-esteem, as well as your own (because they pay attention to how much we embody what we say to them). Here at How She Shines, we know that confident girls become capable women, so we put together a list of ten things parents, kids, and teens can do to improve their self-esteem.
1. Celebrate Achievements
Acknowledge yours and your child's achievements, no matter how small they are. Celebrate successes and recognize their efforts. This will help them feel proud of themselves because of their achievements instead of things outside of their control, like beauty trends or fairweather friends.
2. Encourage Physical Activity
Physical activity is an instant mental health and self-esteem booster. Rather than just encouraging your child to participate in sports or other physical activities they enjoy, try doing physical activities together. Not only will this strengthen your bond, but it will strengthen your bodies and self-worth, as well. Consistent excercise and daily movement will help them build confidence and feel good about their physical abilities.
3. Practice Self-Compassion
Teach your child to be kind and compassionate to themselves. When they make a mistake, help them recognize it and learn from it, but don't let them beat themselves up. It can be helpful to teach them phrases like, "I'm a good kid. Sometimes I make mistakes, but I'm still a good kid." Helping them be accountable for their actions in healthy ways, like making amends when they've hurt someone, will prevent them from carrying shame or guilt for errors.
4. Promote Learning:
Learning new things creates new neural pathways and boosts serotonin, the feel-good chemical in our brains. Encourage your child to learn new things. Whether it's learning a new skill or exploring a new topic, learning can boost their self-esteem and give them a sense of accomplishment.
5. Be a Positive Role Model
Children learn from their parents and caregivers. Be a positive role model by demonstrating healthy self-esteem and self-compassion. Show your child an example of someone who honors, respects, and cares for themselves. They learn more from watching us than from what we tell them. But remember to be kind to yourself if you don't always get it right.
6. Provide Opportunities for Success
Whatever you do, don't immediately take over when your child is attempting something new. So many parents suffer from, "here let me do it" syndrome. When the parent takes over, the child learns helplessness. Instead, help them set achievable goals and support them in reaching those goals. It can be hard to watch them struggle to figure something out, but it is so rewarding to see the smiles on their faces when they succeed on their own.
7. Focus on Strengths
Help your child identify their strengths and encourage them to use them. Focusing on their strengths can help them feel good about themselves and boost their self-esteem. When you notice your child doing something they enjoy, make a note of it and plan activities around those areas of joy and capability.
8. Encourage Social Connections
Community is crucial for us to be able to get a sense of ourselves in a loving environment that extends beyond the home. Encourage your child to make friends and participate in social activities that they enjoy. Make sure to guide your child to become friends with people in a few different social groups, to avoid the mean-girl trap that so many middle schoolers experience.
9. Offer Positive Feedback
Praise can be a wonderful thing for kids to receive from parents, as long as it's sincere and well-earned. Kids can tell when their parents just praise them for every little thing they do. Offering thoughtful praise, like "I can see you did your best on that project. How does that feel? Your praise will help them feel acknowledged and valued. But remind them to look inward for praise, as well. Teaching them to acknowledge themselves when they've made an important achievement will help them rely on internal validation, rather than external validation.
10. Practice Self-Care
The term "self-care" has been used so much in our society, it's almost lost all meaning. True care for oneself doesn't always mean going to the spa or buying smoothies. Self care starts when we take a moment to check in with ourselves and ask what we need in the moment. Maybe it's a walk in the neighborhood, maybe it's to build a fort, hide inside, and read a good book. Encourage your child to think about what they need and allow them to take time to care for those needs. This will help them build self-trust.
Self-esteem hygiene is just as important as oral or bodily hygene. It needs to be practiced consistently in order to maintain good mental health. Celebrating achievements, promoting learning, and focusing on strengths are just a few ways to help you and your child feel confident and capable. By encouraging positive self-talk, social connections, and self-care, you can help your child build a healthy self-esteem that will benefit them throughout their lives.
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