Later success in life depends on many factors. About how hardworking someone is. Or what character traits, skills and talents you have. According to a metanalysis by scientists from the University of British Columbia, the University of Illinois and Loyola University Chicago, among other things, self-esteem is particularly important if you want to lead a balanced and successful life – and how this is expressed in childhood certainly. So how do you increase this? And what mistakes should parents avoid?
Children have different strengths. One is very creative – can paint or write well. Another child can think analytically at an early age or quickly find solutions to a problem. These strengths can be found and promoted by parents observing their offspring closely, explains child and adolescent psychotherapist and founder of the platform Blossoomm Annalena Thomas. It is not about an evaluation, i.e. whether the child is good or bad at something. It’s about what young people enjoy and what they are enthusiastic about. For example, does the child quickly put the pencil away while painting because it is bored? Or is it fun to explore outside?
Trying it out can also be used to find out children’s strengths and preferences. That means: Parents make various offers that encourage the child to experience themselves anew – for example, by trying a new sport. From the age of ten, Thomas recommends focusing on talent or talent. Because becoming an expert in an area, according to the therapist, increases self-esteem immensely. Even as an adult you can build on it. Anyone who learns the piano at an early age and becomes an expert at it can sit down at the instrument at any time and say: “I can play this” – and draw self-confidence from this competence.
It is important that parents give their child the space to explore themselves – and not guard it forever. “It should feel like it’s okay to be human,” says Thomas. So that it is not bad to have moods and failures or to not be able to concentrate. Parents should neither judge nor rely on external appearances. For example, with a painted picture, how hard someone tried to paint it should play a bigger role than how it looks.
Don’t just evaluate grades
According to Thomas, at school it also makes sense not only to pay attention to the grades, but above all to evaluate the efforts of a child. For example, with a presentation: the student prepares himself, stands in front of a class and presents something. That should also be seen, says Thomas. “Not just that the child got a four.”
Explaining how we function as humans also helps young people to develop a healthy sense of self. Stress is a very determining factor, especially in adolescents who are just going through puberty. It takes adults to name what causes stress in you and how to deal with it, says Thomas. Children and especially adolescents should know, for example, that pressure makes us judge ourselves more.
Parents should avoid generalizations. If the child does not put the cup in the dishwasher, parents should not respond with a “Always your dishes around”. “That’s a classic mistake,” says Thomas. Such a sentence slips out quickly when someone is stressed. If that happens, apologize.
Healthy self-esteem means knowing what you can and cannot do. According to Thomas, there isn’t too much of it. “The most important thing is compassion for yourself and others,” she says. Often this does not happen when the child focuses only on himself through his parents. “Values help as an inner compass.”
Making mistakes is fine
Of course, you can’t do an educational marvel every day. Parents make mistakes too. And that’s completely ok. Being a helicopter, for example, is also due to the fact that many parents place high demands on themselves and strive for perfectionism. When parents tend to be too rigid or see themselves very critically, children notice it. “Parents should therefore also have compassion for themselves and pass this on,” says Thomas.
But you shouldn’t let everything go through with this. The so-called Lassez-Faire upbringing style is characterized by the fact that parents rarely intervene and are very reserved. “You can get into a conflict and be angry,” says Thomas. Children should be able to discover themselves – but for this they also need a supportive framework.