An occasional bout of self-doubt is to be expected, and even has an upside — it keeps a child from thinking she’s invincible. But too much doubt leads to low self-esteem.
To help your child strike the right balance, give her plenty of opportunities to shine. And instead of empty praise, which she’ll be onto in a flash, help her master different challenges. Here are five good and useful challenges to offer up.
5 Opportunities to Shine
If patches of self-doubt are lingering in your child, here are a few ways to help her feel unafraid of what life has to offer.
1. Encourage your child to get physical. Exercise has a short-term positive effect on self-esteem. Find an activity that interests your child, and then make it happen by being ready with transportation, encouragement, and equipment.
2. Get help at school. Check in with your child’s teachers if academics seem to be part of the problem. Some schools have homework helpers; others offer tutoring recommendations to help children get back on track with their studies.
3. Nurture healthy habits. A healthy child is a stronger and more confident child. Nip bad habits in the bud. Enforce regular showers, shampoos, and bedtimes. And check that your child isn’t slipping into poor eating habits. At home, insist on eating fresh, healthy meals together.
4. Reward accomplishments. Emphasize the positive. If your child is discouraged in one area, make a big deal of her accomplishments in another.
5. Do something just for fun. Surprise your child with an experience you know she’ll enjoy, like a trip to an amusement park or an evening at the movies. If unpleasant experiences with friends are getting her down, give her something unexpected to tell the world about, making her feel special.
Developing a healthy sense of self begins when your child is a baby, and continues beyond her teenage years. So be consistent, nurturing, and responsive . . . even when she says she doesn’t need you anymore!