Self esteem building is an important part of growing up self-reliant, confident children. Your children believe what you say. They start to believe everything that you tell them. So, if all they hear is what NOT to do, that is how they’ll interpret themselves – the kid who never stops hitting, the child that has to leave play group, each week, or the child who has to sit apart because he has no self control. Let’s use our children’s trust in what we say to empower them to become their best selves. Here a few ways to help build the self esteem of a child who is used to hearing a lot of “You always,” “You never,” and “Stop that.”
- Empower your child to figure out how to do it better, next time or fix it, this time. If you say “You always …” this makes HIM the problem, and programs him to keep doing more of the same. If you say something like, “How do you think you can stop yourself from being so frustrated?” Now, you are moving him from being the problem to becoming the problem solver. Notice any steps in the right direction, even if it isn’t exactly right. Children assume and draw global conclusions, “I am a bad speller,” “I am no good at soccer.” Help him reframe it and figure out how to do better, the next time. “You’re really disappointed that you didn’t kick the ball this game….when do you want to practice with me and Dad?” “How could you study differently to help you learn to spell differently?” Help them see actions have impact on success, rather than just giving up.
- Help him see his BEST self by the way that you describe him to others. In other words,tell on him (tell his father what he did that day or tell a friend what you just noticed).
- Catch him NOT doing the behavior. “You’re working hard on that piece of music,” “When you got frustrated with your brother breaking your crayons, you were able to stop yourself from hitting him,” “You have been sitting here playing independently for 5 whole minutes!” “You brushed your teeth and I didn’t even have to remind you.” Notice that these observances are specific rather then general evaluative pronouncements like “You’re smart,” “You’re so good,” or “Great job.” Those aren’t repeatable observances. You want your child to know WHY he is being noticed and what he did right so that he can make you happy, again.
If you want him to be more patient, you need to help him see himself, differently! It is important that your child sees himself as a child that tries, that fails and tries, again, and that is patient. Help him be the problem solver. Tell on him. Notice when he doesn’t do the behavior. Need more help doing this consistently? Sign up for the next FREE teleconference.
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About Amanda Deverich, LMFT, NCC Marriage & Family Therapist and Professional Counselor 757-903-2406
Amanda draws upon formal counseling theory and education, on the job training and personal life experience. She is skilled in structural family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and Christian counseling. After earning her graduate degree from The College of William & Mary, she starting using the same techniques that she teaches clients with her own children. These methods change lives. These methods WORK!