It’s tough being a parent! We all strive to make our children become polite, kind, and honest individuals, but it’s not always easy. I have two young boys in elementary school and have noticed that I worry too much about what they don’t do rather than focusing on the good things they do. This doesn’t mean I don’t praise them when they do well. I am very proud of my two young men, but when it comes to this balance, I feel I have focused more on what they need to improve rather than the positive.

I have researched the topic of self-esteem endlessly this year. I have chatted with pediatricians, counselors and school teachers. Whether you have a teenager, toddler, or have just brought your baby home from the hospital, I think we can all take from this. Below are examples to build your child’s self-esteem.

 Don’t overpraise. There is such thing as a hollow praise. Overpraising can be damaging. Praise that doesn’t feel earned, doesn’t make your child feel better. For example, telling a child he or she did “so well” when they didn’t, will not ring true to them.

Praise effort. Avoid focusing on praising only when there’s positive results or just for their strong qualities (such as being athletic or smart).

 Be a positive role model. Your attitude and effort towards everyday tasks (like mowing the lawn, cooking, cleaning, etc.), sets an example. Your child learns to put effort and stay positive when doing their homework, cleaning up their room, or helping around the house.

 Ban negative criticism. The way we speak to our children effects how they feel about themselves. Harsh words (“You’re so lazy!”) can be harmful to their self-esteem. It can be challenging at times, but our kids need our patience.

 Focus on strengths. Pay attention to what your child does well and their interests. Make sure your child has an opportunity to focus on these strengths. Focus more on strengths than weaknesses to help kids feel good about themselves.

 Give your child responsibilities. Self-esteem grows when kids get to see that what they do really matters. Let them help out at home, volunteer, or do a favor for a sibling. Helping and kind acts build self-esteem and gives your kids a good feeling.

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