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Self-esteem and confidence are something we need for a lifetime and acquiring them at a young age is likely to set your child up with a lifetime of social happiness. It is the foundation to well-being and success as an adult. From the get go, children are faced with situations in which confidence is an important trait to have, for example going to nursery, their first day at school, their first football match, etc.
- Self image - parents are usually the main source of a child's sense of self-worth. What they look in the mirror and see is something they should be happy and comfortable with. Identify and redirect any inaccurate beliefs they may have about themselves. Healthy self-worth differs from arrogance in the sense it means they have a realistic understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and are confident with who they are.
- Let them learn - coach rather than control and learn to stay on the sidelines. Instead of doing something for your child, you should do things with your child. This is sometimes difficult for parents who feel the need to control but letting your child do things builds their confidence.
- Let go of the inner-perfectionist - resist the urge to improve or perfect what a child is doing or working on. Constant intervention makes a child feel less confident and less able to complete tasks without micro-management and is something they might carry forward with them later in life.
- Praise - let them try things for themselves and always remember to give them a good boost through praise and encouragement. Of course, be around to ensure their safety at all times but where possible, let them get hands on with the activity or task. Encouragement makes them feel more positive so give them hugs, tell them you're proud and keep them motivated.
- Banish the labels! Do not label your child as "shy" or "under confident" when referring to them to others in front of them. Labels stick and the last thing you want is a self-fulfilling prophecy!
- Do not dismiss feelings - it is important that you address whatever they are feeling and make them feel like it is normal. Avoid saying things like "Boys don't cry" or "Girls don't get angry". Encourage them to share their feelings.