Raising a happy, confident child is difficult. You’re never sure if you’re doing a good job, and it always seems as though other parents are doing more to build their kid’s self-esteem.
Recently, researchers found that children can establish high self-esteem by the time they are five years old. This makes it even more important that you know how to manage your child’s self-image, as they will form impactful ideas about themselves before you even make them their first packed lunch.
Here are a few ways you can raise children who are resilient, confident, and believe in themselves.
Misinformation and Your Child
Your child will likely encounter online content which aims to damage their self-esteem and undermine their confidence. As a parent, it’s frustrating to think there are folks out there who would post this kind of harmful content — but it doesn’t mean you need to revoke internet access entirely.
Depending on the age of your child, you can engage in internet safety practices that will keep your children away from harmful online content.
- For Young Children: Set clear boundaries for screen-time by limiting the amount of screen use you offer to young children. Parental locks will also help you stay on top of the content they might see if you step away while they’re online.
- For Kids: You can start allowing your older child to explore the internet a little more, but should probably keep parental locks on their devices. You also need to ensure that their devices are secure and that they cannot use sites where personal information may be shared.
- For Older Children and Teenagers: You need to communicate clearly with your older children. By having an open conversation about the potential dangers of online interactions (cyberbullying, scams, online predators) you can set them up to maintain a healthy relationship with online content.
At some point, you won’t be able to manage the content your children view online. But, by taking appropriate precautions and having honest conversations with your children, you can instill good online behaviors that will keep them safe and ensure online content doesn’t harm their self-esteem.
Empowering Your Child
Parental support is a vital component of building children’s self-esteem. By supporting and empowering your child, you will build a strong foundation for them to explore their identity and can actively help them navigate any changes they may be going through.
If you aren’t up-to-date on contemporary social conversations, it’s worth educating yourself — both for their sake and yours.
One of the most important contemporary conversations in America today is gender; 1.2 million Americans identify as nonbinary, and 56% of Gen-Z shop outside of their assigned gender category. As a parent who prioritizes their child’s self-esteem, it’s in your best interest to learn about gender and gender fluidity, as supporting them as they navigate their identity will help ensure they feel comfortable opening up to you.
Mental Health + Body Positivity
Every child’s body is different. Some will develop quickly, some will experience puberty early, and others won’t start to blossom into their teenage selves until much later. You must support them during this process, particularly as more teenagers are suffering from anxiety than ever before.
As a parent, one of the best things you can do is take control of your own mental health. That’s because the way you treat your child is a major contributing factor in their overall mental health. Researchers recently found that parents who are generally abrasive towards their children had kids who were more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression. Often, this abrasiveness is rooted in a parent’s own mental health struggles. You can speak to your doctor about therapy, or find professional help online.
The way you treat your child’s body is particularly important if they have an invisible illness. Millions of children live with an invisible illness, and, as a parent, it can be difficult to support your child while they’re ill. As a parent, you should advocate for your child, but should also allow them to grow independently. By letting them grow at their own pace, you show them that you believe in them while reassuring them that you’re ready to support them no matter what.
There is no perfect way to parent. Our children’s bodies are changing every day, and they face unique challenges that we couldn’t have even imagined. The best thing parents can do is listen and offer unconditional support. This allows your child to work through their struggles and will give them room to build a positive self-image of their own.