How to Build Self-Esteem in Your Children Through Positive Reinforcement

Self-esteem is vital to our mental health and well-being as we grow up and develop. Lots of things can impact it, but parental style is a big factor. Here are some ways to build self-esteem in your children through positive reinforcement.

Specific Praise

If you are proud of the effort your child has put into something or the way they have behaved, make sure you let them know specifically what they have done that it is you are proud of. For example, if they showed a lot of kindness to someone, you should say to them “I’m really proud of you for how kind you were to that person” rather than praising them more generally. This will reinforce their instinct to act similarly in the future.

Positive Body Image

If you are encouraging your children to exercise, focus on the functional benefits of doing so such as better mental health and that they will sleep better. It can be all too easy to focus on one’s physical appearance and parents can unwittingly add to this. Try and make sure that your child knows that they are loved unconditionally, and your compliments should be about their efforts, skills, and character over their physical appearance.

Model Positive Self-Talk

If you are consistently demonstrating compassionate self-discipline in the way you interact with yourself, your children will pick up that their parental figures and role models are using healthy ways of conversing with themselves. Try not to be too angry at yourself or negative as this may rub off on your children. Emphasize that mistakes are a natural part of life and try not to take yourself too seriously, whilst remaining open for communication.