“I’m stupid”, “I’m not good at this”, “I can’t do it”. From time to time all children will have negative views about their own abilities. As a parent, it can be hard to hear that your child feels they aren’t good enough, so, to help, we’ve put together our top tips for helping your child realise their self-worth.
Acknowledge their feelings
Help your child to work out what it is that they are feeling, this will help to identify what is bothering them. Negative feelings usually stem from fear, for instance, “I’m stupid” is usually a child’s way of expressing their fear of failure. Talk openly and honestly with your child about their fear. Once you understand the problem you can work together to resolve it. Perhaps they are worried about starting a new club because they fear they won’t make friends. Talk through why they feel this way and offer suggestions and solutions, such as helping them find a buddy on the first day.
Use humour to help them see it differently
Role play is a great tool to use when problem-solving. Work through your child’s problem by acting it out. Maybe they are worried about going to a class party. Work through some scenarios with them, showing them different ways to join in and how their socialising efforts might play out or what might happen during the aspects of the party they are concerned about. Add in some silly voices to make them laugh and relieve some of their tension around the situation. Worried about remembering their spellings for the test? Pretend to be robots and spell everything out in robot voices. Not only will this raise a smile, but it’ll help them remember.
Praise efforts, not results
Sometimes a task takes several attempts to get right. Offering words of encouragement and praise along the way will help your child feel confident that they are on the right track and spur them on to reach their goal. Not every child is a high achiever, but everyone can do their best. Praising children’s efforts, as well as their achievements, shows them that even if they don’t quite reach their goal (yet!), they are doing their best and that’s important too.
Practice a growth mindset
“I can’t do this…yet”. Growth mindset is a phrase we hear a lot at the moment. It’s all about being resilient and persevering to achieve your goal. Help children to understand that it’s ok to make mistakes along the way. Discuss with them their next steps, offering suggestions on how they might reach their target.
Discuss your “best failures”
Use mealtimes as an opportunity to discuss things that went wrong during your day and, more importantly, how you worked to overcome them and reach your goal. This shows children that everyone has failures or things they don’t get right first time, even grown-ups! Empathise with each other about how things have gone wrong and celebrate everyone’s successes.
Make home a safe place
Home is a place where children feel safe. Giving them a welcoming, loving environment to come home to means they’ll feel more confident to get out there and try new things because they understand they will always be loved no matter the results of their efforts.
For more tips on how to help your child’s self-esteem, check out our post on helping your child to be more confident.