From finding the best formula milk for your infant, to prepping your children for each major examination, and equipping them with life skills, we’ll never stop wanting the best for our children. While education remains an important aspect of our lives, we have inadvertently burdened ourselves to coach our children to thrive academically. Yet, amidst our hopes for our children to succeed, we may sometimes overlook their inmost need to be valued and loved. As parents, we have the opportunity to influence the way our children feel about themselves. Beyond providing for their physical needs and motivating them to do their best, we also play a crucial role in nurturing their self-esteem, and we can do so by building a family culture that embraces the 5 A’s:
All children need unconditional love; they need to know that they are accepted for who they are, by the people who love them the most – their parents. Every child is different, so it is essential that we celebrate the uniqueness of each child as they develop their own special combination of strengths and abilities. “There is no one else like you in the whole wide world!” communicates to your children that they are special and unique.
“There is no one else like you in the whole wide world!” communicates to your children that they are special and unique.
Affirmation is the expression of acceptance. A parent’s affirmation gives security, so children who are secure in their parents’ love are less likely to seek acceptance from other sources in future. Praise and encouragement give significance, so make positive statements about who they are, their qualities, character and potential. Let us remember to not only praise them for their accomplishments, such as coming in first in the swimming competition, but to also affirm their attributes, such as the determination and sportsmanship displayed. Your children desire to be loved and valued for who they are – not just for what they do or in comparison to anyone else.
Your children desire to be loved and valued for who they are – not just for what they do or in comparison to anyone else.
A parent’s availability communicates importance and self-worth. If you are prepared to make an investment of positive attention, you likely won’t be spending your time trying to discipline children who are looking for negative attention. Make time to play with your children, have fun, laugh and do silly things together. Allow them to express their viewpoint and know that they have been heard. When they speak, give them your full attention and maintain eye contact.
Physical touch and affection should be part of our children’s everyday experience. They will then enjoy greater connectedness and ease with others than those who have not experienced affection and warmth. This can be in the form of fun activities, like piggy-back rides, wrestling on the floor, gentle throws in the air or reading a story while sitting on your lap. Daily actions can also provide valuable physical contact – brushing your children’s hair, giving them encouraging pats on the back, cuddling them, and tucking them into bed. This is not only restricted to the early years – even as your children grow older, they still need your touch, given in an appropriate manner and time.
Include them in your tasks, be it buying groceries or hanging the clothes, and give yourselves more time to accomplish them.
Age-appropriate and consistent discipline also helps children develop character and self-esteem. Giving your children the opportunity to help in the home and be appreciated for doing so is one great way to build their self-esteem while teaching them responsibility. Include them in your tasks, be it buying groceries or hanging the clothes, and give yourselves more time to accomplish them. Allowing them to make mistakes and learning from them will teach them to take responsibility for their actions, discover how to make good choices about their behavior, and understand that consequences occur as a result of their choices. Children will then grow in independence, accountability and self-direction, but with loving parental guidance and discipline.
Building up our children’s self-esteem is a long process, but it will be truly rewarding to see them mature into young adults, confident in their own skin and ready to face the uncertain future on their own.
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