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How Parents Can Nurture Self-Esteem

Posted: April 02, 2018

Nurture Self Esteem

Self-esteem develops over time. 

And if it’s low, it can be raised. Here are things parents can do:

Help your child learn to do things. At every age, there are new things for kids to learn. Martial Arts is one of the best sports you can enroll your child in because they will be learning while having fun.  As they practice their basics and improve their self defense skills, they will gain competence.  Increased competence leads to increased confidence.  Confidence increases self-esteem.

When coaching kids how to do things, show and help them at first. Then let them do what they can, even if they make mistakes. Be sure your child has lots of opportunities to learn, try, and feel proud. Don’t make new challenges too easy — or too hard.  If it’s too easy, there is no growth.  If it is too hard, they will believe that they can’t do it.  It is important that you utilize the concept of progressive resistance.

Praise your child, but do it wisely. Of course, it’s good to praise kids. Your praise is a way to show that you are proud of them. But research shows that some ways of praising kids can actually backfire.  

Here’s how to do it right:

Avoid over-praising. Praise that doesn’t feel earned doesn’t ring true. For example, telling a child he kicked almost straight up when he knows he didn’t feels hollow and fake. It’s better to say, “I know that was a tough class, but we all have off days. I’m proud of you for not giving up.”  Add a vote of confidence, “Tomorrow, you’ll be back on your game.” 

Praise effort rather than fixed qualities. Avoid focusing praise on results such as doing the best in class or fixed qualities (such as being smart or athletic). This kind of praise can lead kids to avoid challenges that may threaten the good ‘reputation’ they get praised for most.

Instead, offer most of your praise for effort, progress, and attitude. For example: “You’re working hard on that split,” or, “You’re getting better and better at these combinations,” or, “I’m proud of you for practicing and going to classes — you’ve really stuck with it.  This kind of praise encourages kids to put effort into things, work toward goals, and try.  When kids do that, they are more likely to succeed.

Be a good role model. When you put effort into everyday tasks (like raking the leaves, making a meal, cleaning up the dishes, or washing the car), you’re setting a good example. Your child learns to put effort into doing homework, cleaning up toys, and extra-curricular activites.

Always Model the right attitude and teach your child to do the same. 

Ban harsh criticism. The messages kids hear about themselves from others easily translate into how they feel about themselves. Saying harsh words are harmful, not motivating. When kids absorb negative messages about themselves, they feel bad about themselves, and act accordingly. 

Focus on strengths. Pay attention to what your child does well and enjoys. Make sure your child has opportunities to develop these strengths. Nurturing strengths is better than focusing on weaknesses if you want to help kids feel good about themselves and succeed.  All students progress at different rates in their martial arts journey.  It’s not a belt race, it’s all about becoming a black belt in mind, body, and spirit, over time.