How to raise kids with healthy self-esteem, according to a therapist

Low self-esteem can affect every aspect of a child’s life. It can also manifest itself in a variety of ways.

Some signs of low self-esteem include a struggle to tolerate negative emotions, says Irina Gorelik, a child psychologist at Williamsburg Therapy Group, or a reluctance to seek credit for certain actions.

A child may also be challenge averse and either give up too easily or be too perfectionistic.

“Children who are the most outgoing and confident may struggle with their self-esteem, while children who are slower to warm up may be better at trusting themselves,” she says.

If you feel your child has low self-esteem, or are concerned that they might develop it, there are steps you can take now to boost their confidence and help them cope with negative thoughts .

make her feel bad

Denying feelings can backfire and make kids more confident, says Gorelik. Talking children out of negative emotions or telling them they’re overreacting might invalidate their feelings, she says.

It may be hard at the time, but in the long run, learning how to manage bad feelings now will be more beneficial to them.

“Allow them to experience the full range of emotions and help them trust their own experiences,” she says.

Allow them to experience the full range of emotions and help them trust their own experiences.

Avoid “fixing” their feelings.

Focus on a growth mentality

Some praises can be more helpful in boosting a child’s self-esteem than others. Encourage your child to notice or acknowledge their efforts rather than their results, says Gorelik.

“Communicate [the fact] that skills are built through effort and hard work, rather than just focusing on results,” she says.

When your child scores a point in a game, you can say, “Wow, you’ve spent a lot of practice doing that, how does that feel” instead of just focusing on the feeling of scoring the goal.

If they draw a picture, you could comment, “I see you worked very hard on this.

You want your child to be confident on the inside, rather than relying on external sources or rewards for validation.

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