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The five biggest mistakes parents make with confidence-building

20 May
Posted by:
Michael Grose

Parents always have the right intentions when they boost their children’s confidence but sometimes their esteem-boosting efforts backfire and have the reverse effect.

Here are five mistakes parents commonly make when they try to give their children self-esteem a boost:

  1. Over-praise: It is easy to become a praise junkie so that kids are praised for standing up straight. “Wow! You are standing up. What a guy!” Go easy on the praise. Too much of it and it means nothing. Also praise boys in private rather than public as they can become easily embarrassed.
  2. Fail to link comment with effort: Make sure the things you praise really deserve it. Sometimes we lower the bar with children and we do them a disservice when we accept second and third rate efforts.
  3. Use a sibling or friend as a model: Sometimes in our efforts to inspire kids we use friends or siblings as role models. Comments such as “Look how hard your elder sister works?” actually discourage kids rather than encourage them. Compare kids only with themselves not others.
  4. Mix praise with criticism: There is nothing like bursting a child’s bubble by praising them up for good work followed by a ‘but… you could do better' or something equally deflating. Keep feedback and criticism for another time and let kids enjoy a bit of praise.
  5. Lack of sincerity: If you encourage or praise a child you have to mean it. I mean really mean it otherwise kids see through it a mile off.

We all have the best of intentions when we try to boost the self-confidence of children and young people however if we are to do something we may as well do it well.

So to be effective at self-esteem boosting it helps if we:

  • Be realistic with praise an don’ over do it.
  • Make sure we link our positive comments with real effort.
  • Never compare a child to a sibling or friend, even out of frustration.
  • Avoid mixing praise with criticism or sarcasm
  • Only encourage or praise a child when we really mean it
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