Love and Logic Magic has some great ideas for building positive self-concept in your child. Some people really recoil at the idea of “self-concept” or previously used “self-esteem.” This isn’t your fluffy self-esteem building exercise. This is building a positive self-concept that is real.
Allow Child to Solve Own Problems
The first step is to allow the child to solve his own problems. You, the parent, remain patient. Give your child space and time to think and to work it out on his own. This means when he is having a hard time with that toy, you don’t jump in and do it for him (yes, I have been that mom). Solving your own problems builds confidence and also builds ability to solve problems in the future.
Show Child Love
In line with the remaining patient part above, show your child empathy and love. Our children take on certain traits we have, and sometimes we don’t like certain traits. Keep your empathy glasses on so you can see where your child is coming from. For example, my husband has always been a brother who likes to scare his sisters and a son who likes to scare his mom. Even to this day, he will take the opportunity to do so.
Brayden took on that same enjoyment. My husband, however, did not appreciate Brayden doing that. I had to point out to him that not only did he do that as a child, he does it as a grown man to this day. He came to the conclusion that as a brother, he feels kind of like it is his job, but as a father, he feels it is his job to protect his girls. So watch where you are coming from and have empathy for your child in his unique (or not-so-unique) personality traits.
Do Not Criticize
Criticizing just doesn’t work well with anyone. People don’t like to be criticized no matter how old they are. Remember to offer praise and encouragement. Criticizing is different than correcting.
Home should be a safe place. Home should be where he feels love. He will be slammed by the world enough; make your home a place to feel safe and loved.
Do Not Do Everything
When my dad got married, he literally had never made his own bed. His mom had always done it for him. Fortunately, my Dad still thought highly of himself :). Don’t do everything for your child. Let him dress himself, clean his own room, and (gasp!) brush his own teeth.
When he is able to do some things for himself, he knows he is capable of it.
Offer Real World Experience
Make home life similar to real world life. This means consequences are real. Don’t save your child from the consequences of his decisions. Allow for learning experiences to take place based on his actions, for better or worse.
Knowing about consequences and how they work allows you to move forward in the world with confidence. The world does not save people from consequences (okay, I can think of times it does…but it never turns out well. Consequences will always be had at some point). Give your child the gift of navigating life with the ability to see what happens when he does something.
It also gives him the confidence to know that he controls his own destiny. He isn’t randomly acted upon. He can largely control what happens to him.
These are some simple ways to allow children to build a positive self-concept. He will know who he is, how the world works, and he will know he is loved at home.
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