All children are created worth wise and are due the rightful personal respect and dignity. But how can we, as parents, build strong egos and indomitable spirits in our children? There are strategies by which we can instill confidence and self-worth:
- Examine Your Own Values
Are you secretly disappointed because your child is ordinary? Have you rejected him, at times, because he lacks charm or is awkward? Do you think your child is stupid?
A sizeable portion of a child’s self-concept emerges from the way he thinks you see him. When the child is convinced he is loved and respected by the parents, he is inclined to accept his own worth as a person.
Many children know they are loved by their parents, but don’t believe they are held in high esteem by them. A child can know that you would give your life for him, yet still detect your doubts about his acceptability. You are nervous when he speaks to guests. You interrupt to explain what he was trying to say, or laugh when his remarks sound foolish. Parents need to guard what they say in the presence of the children.
Parents must also take the time to introduce children to good books, to fly kites and play football with them, listen to the skinned-knee episode and talk about the bird with the broken wing. These are the building blocks of esteem.
- Teach a “Think Positive” Policy
One of the characteristics of a person who feels inferior is that he talks about his deficiencies to anyone who will listen.
While you are blabbing about your inadequacies, the listener is forming an impression of you. He will later treat you according to the evidence you have provided. If you put your feelings into words, they become solidified as fact in your own mind.
Therefore, we should teach a “think positive” policy to our children. Constant self-criticism can become a self-defeating habit.
- Help Your Child Compensate
Our task as parents is to serve as a confident ally, encouraging when children are distressed, intervening when threats are overwhelming, and giving them the tools to overcome the obstacles. One of those tools is compensation. An Individual counterbalances weaknesses by capitalizing on his strengths. It is our job to help our children find those strengths.
Perhaps a child can establish his niche in arts. May be he can build model airplanes or keep rabbits or play football. Nothing is more risky than sending a child into adolescence with no skills, no unique knowledge, and no means of compensating. He must be able to say: “I may not be the most popular boy in the school, but I am the best football player in the team.”
I recommend that parents assess a child’s strength, and then select a skill with the best chance for success. See that he gets through the first stage. If you find you have made a mistake, start again on something else. But don’t let inertia keep you from, teaching him a skill.
- Help Your Child Compete
A parent who opposes the stress placed on beauty, brawn and brains knows his child is forced to compete in world that worships those attributes. Should he help encourage his “average” child to excel in school?
I can give you only one opinion. I feel I must help my child compete in his world as best he can. If he is struggling in school, I will seek special coaching. We are allies in his fight for survival.
But while helping my child to compete, I also instruct him in the true values of life: love for mankind, integrity, truthfulness, and devotion to Allah.
- Discipline With Respect
Does punishment, and particularly spanking, break the spirit of a child? The answer depends on the manner and intent of the parents. A spanking, in response to willful defiance, is a worthwhile tool, but belief in corporal punishment is no excuse for taking about your frustrations on little child; it offers no license to punish him in front of others or treat him with disrespect.
It is important to recognize however, that one way to damage self-esteem is to avoid discipline altogether. Parents are the symbols of justice and order, and a child wonders why they let him get away with doing harmful things if they really love him.
- Avoid Overprotection
Preparation for responsible adulthood is derived from training during childhood. A child should be encouraged to progress on an orderly timetable, taking the level of responsibility appropriate for his age. An overly protective parent allows the child to fall behind his normal timetable.
Source: Family Life written by Aisha Mutuku