Everyone wants their children to have a good sense of self-esteem. It can be tempting to try to build your child's sense of self-esteem by praising them and telling them that they are doing a good job regardless of the actually results or outcome. However, heaping complements may not be the best way to help your child build up their sense of self-esteem. Real self-esteem is internally driven. By changing how you praise your child, you can help them develop internally driven self-esteem.
Risk Of Too Much "Good Job" On Your Child's Self Esteem
If you tell your child that they do a good job with everything that they try to do, you may actually be harming your child's self-esteem. Too much of the wrong kind of praise can cause your children to only try out things that are easy and they know they will get your praise for accomplishing it.
Real self-esteem is developed by struggling to accomplish something. It is developed by occasionally failing to achieve what they were working on, and understanding what they are capable of. Your child needs to be able to internally feel good about what they have accomplished, regardless of if they reach their ultimate goal or not.
Focus Your Praise On Promoting Positive Behaviors
The biggest problem with telling your child "good job" every time they complete a task is that you are actually minimizing the efforts that your child put forth to complete the task. Instead of just telling your child that they did a good job, focus on praising and promoting the positive behaviors behind the thing that they just did.
For example, if your child shows you a story that they wrote, a praise that promotes positive behavior would focus on the effort your child put into the piece, such as, "Your handwriting looks so neat, I can tell you took your time," or, "I see that you really added a lot of details about what was happening in the story."
This type of praise promotes positive behavior, and lets your child know that you really see the effort that they put into their work.
Focus Your Praise On How Your Child Feels
Another issue with good job or good girl/boy praise is that you are reinforcing to your child that someone else has to tell your child if they are good or not. It also tells your child that their worth is tied not to their overall character, but to what they did on a specific occasion.
Instead of telling your child that you feel they did a good job, focus on identifying and praise how your child feels.
For example, if your child just built something and really wants to show it to, say, "You seem like you are really excited about what you built" or "You look really happy that you did that yourself."
This will help your child identify that they feel good about what they just accomplished, and it will help build up their internal sense of self-esteem.
Focus Your Praise On The Big Pictures
When your child participates in a sports activity, or brings home an assignment, it can be easy to focus just on the score or the grade. However, focusing on just the score and the grade underscores the big picture and emphasizes that it is all about winning.
For example, after a game, don't ask your kid if they won, or praise them for just for winning. For example, after a soccer game, you could say, "I saw you running really fast up and down the field today" or "I noticed that you were really accurate with your passes." This will help your child see it is about the effort they put forth, not just the score on the board.
Another way to keep the focus on the big picture is to ask your child questions instead of just praising them for doing well. For example, if they show you an assignment they did well on, ask them what they learned or what part of the assignment they enjoyed the most. This emphasizes that it is about learning, not just winning.
One of the best ways to help your child develop their sense of self-esteem is by making sure that when you praise your child, you are reinforcing positive behavior, focusing on the bigger picture, and are acknowledging how your child feels. By simply changing your approach to praise, you can help your child develop their self-esteem. To learn more about how you can build self esteem in children, contact a company like Aikido Northshore.