Self-esteem is what leaves us feeling content with ourselves. It makes us feel worthwhile and know how to contribute to the community around us. High self-esteem allows us to accept who we are, with all our limitations and weaknesses. It equips us with the realisation that we need to ask for help when necessary, simply because we can learn to focus on our strengths and what makes us unique. Without it life will always feel a struggle.
So how can parents or carers help their children develop self-esteem?
It’s understandable that when raising any child, parents or carers might get frustrated due to different circumstances of their upbringing, even more so if the child has a disability and the parents still cannot understand how to best help their child. Never forget that frustrated parents lead to unhappy children, so always try and maintain a positive attitude. Make sure that your child knows that, whatever what, you will always overcome challenges together. Never forget to tell them that they are loved just the way they are.
Enjoy your time together
Play, hug, tickle, giggle, go out, read a book. Even if there are days when you want to shut the world out, do that extra effort to be with your child and spend quality time with him/her.
Adopt a positive outlook
Society doesn’t always help parents in the best of ways. It could be someone walking on the streets and looking strangely at your child or passing a comment, a person in church who changes place if your child sits next to them or even a professional who cannot understand your child’s needs. Whatever it is, never air your frustrations in front of your children as it will make them feel as an inconvenience, even if that is not what you want to portray to them
Praise every success, no matter how small it might be. Whether it’s putting on socks, tying a shoe lace, finishing off a sentence correctly, you should always let your child know that he/she did well. It is so effective!
You can never start too early teaching life skills as it helps in gaining independence. If your child can learn to have a go, ask for help and brush off making mistakes, he or she is already at a good start. Dressing, washing, sorting laundry, making beds, putting away clean cutlery, watering plants, posting letters, paying for groceries. All these chores are essential for every day living as is making choices.
Risk taking is part of what makes us human. As a parent or guardian, we tend to over protect our children to keep them safe. Even though keeping our children safe is good, allow them to live – make new friends, get dirty, stumble, make mistakes. It is all part of growing up and anyway, you will always be there to help them up if they fall.
Making friendships and forging relationships are another part of risk taking and what really make life worth living. Give your child a set of skills they need to make friends. You could try teaching them a set phrase, such as “Can I be your friend?” that they can use in the playground. Take photos of them playing with friends and tell them what a gentle and kind friend they are. It’s important to then stand back and allow friendships to flourish without interrupting. You can stand nearby, without being part of the interactions.
It’s important to remember that we don’t always get it right as carers and parents, but if our intentions are good then we are moving in the right direction and we can be rest assured that we have done our very best for our children.