Here at St Peter’s Prep, we pride ourselves in providing the highest quality education for all, and that includes skills and behaviours that contribute to life outside the classroom. One of the biggest issues facing children who are struggling academically is a lack of belief in themselves and building their confidence is likely to result in an improved performance both in their studies and beyond. We do what we can here at school, but there are many things that you, as parents, can do to further build upon your child’s self-esteem to ensure they believe they can achieve success as they progress throughout school and into the world of work. We’ve created a list featuring just five of the best ways you can build your child’s self-esteem at home.
Praise the Journey Not Just the End Result
Praising your child is paramount to building their self-esteem, but how you praise them is just as important. Don’t just congratulate them on what they have achieved, but on all the hard work, focus and commitment that it took to get there. Acknowledging the approach that children have taken when facing a task will help them to learn that they are capable of overcoming obstacles and reinstate the importance of working hard to achieve great things.
There is Such a Thing as Too Much Praise
While praising a child for a job well done is essential to help them build confidence and acknowledge that working hard equates to positive consequences, overpraising your child for average or sub-par performances can have detrimental effects. It’s important for them to understand that, more often than not, you must work hard and commit to something in order to become good at the said activity. Instilling a false sense of security in your child will either stop him or her striving to improve or will lead to a few unsavoury home truths in the future. Children have instincts that shouldn’t be underestimated, and they will usually have an idea of whether or not they are talented in a specific field. Over-praising is counter-productive as a child loses confidence in their own instincts and any genuine praise in the future will be rendered untrustworthy.
Foster a Growth Mindset
Reframe any negative thoughts and statements so that children maintain the belief that they can improve in the future. Fixed mindsets refer to children who believe their skillsets are bad, either because of what they are told or on self-reflection and that they should give up that activity as they are unlikely to improve. For example, if your child says, “I can’t run as fast as the others” in reference to teammates on the football team, reply with something like “Well at least now we know what we need to practise!” and ensure you spend some extra time working on running throughout the week. Fixed mindsets can be detrimental to a child’s development across the board and are likely to encourage a defeatist attitude to tasks in later life and should be avoided at all costs.
Let Children Make Their Own Decisions
Letting children make their own choices will encourage them to think for themselves and understand the consequences of decisions. Even small, everyday decisions such as whether to wear a coat or not will allow them to take control of their actions and learn from any mistakes they may make. Whilst it’s only natural to want to make decisions to keep your child safe, you face the risk of over-protection, teaching them to be dependent on you as a caregiver. Similarly, by taking away the independence that some of their peers might be experiencing, children may begin to believe they are incapable and can’t be trusted.
Assign Age-Appropriate Household Chores
Giving children a bit more responsibility in the family home will instil a sense of trust in them which will do wonders for their self-esteem. For younger children, simply helping to dry the dishes or clearing the table will help them gain a feel for the importance of everyday tasks, whereas older children can take the dog for a walk or do the washing. Again, you can let them figure out the consequences for themselves. For example, if they don’t do the washing, they might not have clean clothes for the following day but make sure you explain the importance of each task thoroughly and what might happen if they are not completed.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our take on building self-esteem and, if this is something your child struggles with, it’s given you some inspiration for tips and tricks to try at home. If you have any concerns about your child’s confidence levels at home or in the classroom, don’t hesitate to contact our boarding school in Devon, and we’d be happy to do what we can, in school, to help. Have you got any other tips and tricks that worked for you? Share them with us in the comments via our social media channels to help out other parents of pupils at St Peter’s.