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By Dr Akhil Shahani
Self-esteem can be defined as an individual's belief in their own value and ability to face challenges. People with high self-esteem take responsibility for their actions and are motivated to strive towards their goals. People with low self-esteem may have similar goals as those with higher levels, but do not believe they are worthy and will make less effort to achieve those goals. It would be obvious to point out that having a high level of self-esteem is key to achieving any form of success in this world.
As a loving parent, you obviously would want your child to grow up with a high level of self-esteem. Here are six easy ways to raise your child's self-esteem:
Give them choices
A key component of self-esteem is having the feeling of being in control of a situation. If you want your child to do something, don't just instruct them. Influence them in such a way that they feel like doing so is their choice. For example, if you want your child to eat healthy, don't tell them to just eat an apple, present them with the choice of eating an apple or a banana or a pear. Making the choice will help them feel in control, even though the actual options have been defined by you to get to your ultimate aim of healthy eating.
Another component is building their feeling of achievement in small ways. Instead of dressing your pre-school child, make her learn how to dress herself. It may take longer, but she will definitely feel proud when she does so.
The ability to face failure and keep moving ahead is another aspect of high self-esteem. When your child loses a game or does badly in a test, do not sympathise too much. Instead ask them what they plan to do to succeed the next time.
Do not belittle them
Never make generalised statements to your child that they are not intelligent or are badly behaved. If they have done something wrong, you can show your disapproval on that specific issue and ask them how they will improve. Do not make them feel that their overall capabilities are deficient.
Do not give general praise
As a flipside of the previous point, do not give general praise to your child that they are very smart or very creative, especially if they have not done anything at that time to show these qualities. Children can sense when they are getting undeserved accolades. It is better to praise them for the effort they've put in to achieve a specific task, so they feel more competent about their abilities.
Be a good role model
Ultimately, the way you behave will influence your child's behaviour much more than what you say to them. Hence, always act in a way that makes them believe you have a high level of self-worth and are confident of facing any challenge, regardless of how you actually feel inside.
What is easy about the above six tips is that they do not require any resources beyond your willingness to change your own mindset when it comes to raising your child.
(The writer is Managing Director, The Shahani Group.)