Your Child’s Self-Esteem: Teach Them to DIY

Guest post by Sarah of Maxi Dress Mania.

Mid adult man and his children cutting vegetables at a kitchen counterMost of us have faced a life-long struggle in learning how to manage our own self-esteem, so when it comes to helping your child cultivate a strong sense of self, you are left at a complete loss.  Add to this the growing list of responsible parenting practices (from getting them to eat right and exercise to squeezing in play dates and a well-rounded activities roster) and you may find it well nigh impossible to keep up with your child’s psychological development.

Luckily, the best way to guarantee that your child grows up with good self-esteem is to teach them to be self-sufficient.  This will not only help them to grow and mature, it will also take some of the pressure off you.  Even young children can benefit from sharing the responsibilities of simple household tasks.  They can start out early on by simply picking up their own toys or putting their dirty clothes in the hamper.  From there they may graduate to making their bed, setting the table, or even stirring the cooking pots (as they get older).  And then it’s just a hop, skip, and jump to a house full of teenagers that do their own laundry and clean the toilets!  Okay, we may be getting ahead of ourselves with that one, but the principle is sound.  Teach your kids early on that completing a task is rewarding and you will help them to form a lifelong habit.  Besides which, they will learn that they are competent and capable individuals, which is an invaluable step towards good self-esteem.

As for the rewarding part, it’s best to keep it simple.  Words of praise will suffice for small children, and as they get older you can offer allowance or other options like slumber parties or trips to the theme park (based on a points system of some sort).  Offering food rewards is probably a no-no since it can lead to harmful associations later on, so stick to material or monetary compensation as it will have the added bonus of teaching them the value of hard work for fair pay.

The idea behind all of this is to make your kids feel good.  So remember not to take them for granted.  Always thank or praise them when they do a good job and try not to interfere.  Allowing them to make mistakes and learn it themselves will only solidify their feelings of competence and self-assurance, so unless they ask for help or you see that they are frustrated and on the verge of giving up, let them try to finish on their own.  And offer them diverse tasks.  In fact, you should insist on it.  This will teach them not to limit themselves to only the things they know they can do.  In the long run, they will surprise you with how adaptable they are, and every task they complete will reinforce a strong self-esteem.

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