1. Say I love you every day.
It is important for kids to know they are loved, and valued by their parents. They need to know they matter to the people who brought them into this world. Research also shows the benefit of loving words from parents on a child’s self-esteem and confidence.
2. Care about your child’s creativity/talents
For example, you might say “You drew that, it’s amazing!” or “Wow, you have rythm. I can tell by how you are tapping on the table. Would you like to try an instrument?”
3. Be interested in what your child is doing (e.g., What game are you playing? Can you show me how to do that? Do you want to do this together?)
4. Give your child independence and freedom appropriate to their age/level.
For example: “Yes, you can put your shoes on by yourself.” “Go ahead to the swings honey, I am watching you from here.”
5. Make your child’s safety and healthcare a top priority.
Examples: teach them how to put their seatbelt on; take them for their medical and dental exams, etc.
Related Content: Story to Prepare Children for Doctor’s Appointments
6. Spend quality time with your child.
Examples: play a game, eat a meal, go for a walk, cook or bake.
7. Create traditions to build memories.
Example: Every Thanksgiving we talk about what we are thankful for while we drink hot chocolate and eat pie as a family)
8. Let your child know when he/she makes you proud.
Examples: “You put so much effort into remembering your lines for the school play. I hope you feel proud of yourself. I know that I am very proud of you.” Research supports the use of parental praise in creating optimal child outomes.
9. Teach your child how to share (yes, it is yours, but when we share, others share with us, and we build relationships, let’s practice what it is like to share our things).
See a sample video on helping children share below. How can this activity be modified to fit your situation?
10. Tell your child about you (let them get to know your interests, your memories, your dreams).
11. Give and teach your child empathy (I know you are sad because your friend’s party is cancelled. I am sure your friend is sad that her party got cancelled too. Maybe we can offer to take her to lunch, since she didn’t have her party).
12. Let your child explore his/her environment, fall down, make mistakes, and get back up.
13. Get to know your child; if they don’t naturally let you in, make an effort and ask about them (e.g., what do they like to do, how to they handle stress, who do they talk to to work through problems, what are their personal goals, etc.)
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14. Let your child make appropriate choices as often as possible.
Examples: “Do you want the green shirt or red shirt? Would you like to have a snack before or during your homework?”
15. Feed your child healthy food (no one is perfect, try your best).
16. Give your child time to relax or do what they love. We all need time to decompress and get to know ourselves.
17. Encourage your child to exercise.
Fitness is great for self-esteem, confidence, etc. Short Youtube videos can make exercise quick and fun. Look for your (your child’s) area of interest (e.g., martial arts, yoga, jumping, dancing) and break it up into manageable blocks of time (five miuntes here, three minutes there, etc.)
Related Artice: Four Benefits of Physical Development on Child Development
18. If you can, exercise with your child (e.g., this creates a bond, holds you accountable, and let’s you and your child work together as a team)
19. Focus on and notice the positives in your child (e.g., you are so good with our pets, they are lucky to have you; that was great how you kept working on that until you fixed it, that took a lot of persistance; etc.).
Once someone told me I was a diligent worker when I worked as a residential counselor for adults with developmental disabilities. I always thought about that, and how I wanted to remain diligent because it lined up with my values about work ethic and wanting to be a productive member of society who gives back and makes a positive difference.
20. Listen without judgment (e.g., I understand that you feel very angry because of what happened at the dance. I am here to listen, talk through it with you or whatever you may need to process this)
21. Never take your child for granted (your child is a gift, life is fragile, and they desereve to have a great life where they feel like they matter and are loved).
They should never feel like you would be fine or better off without them, or that they are unwanted or don’t belong. Your actions show them how much you mean to them. If they are ever unsure, reassure them with your words.
22. Set up reasonable boundaries and expectations so you do not enable your child. You want them to become self-sufficient as they transition to adulthood.
Let your child know that you will love them no matter what. However, in order for you to maintain an active and effectively supportive role in their lives as adults, it will be crucial for them to develop the necessary skills of self-care, productivity, and respect for others.
Developing their self-esteem, social skills, boundaries, respect, self-care, work ethic, etc. now, will assist with a successful shift to adulthood, where you as a parent can be a supportive friend, guide, and older adult role model.
Developing child self-esteem and a healthy sense of self-adequacy now can prevent problematic behaviors that many adults experience such as: low motivation, little belief in oneself, and little belief or even awareness of one’s own skills and value.
I would love to hear from you! Can you share some tips that you have found helpful to build a child’s self-esteem? How about tips to help children develop the effective use of social skills so they can successfully navigate their environment and further their own personal goals for the betterment of themselves and society as a whole.
Education and Behavior– A free research-based library to keep parents, caregivers, educators, and counselor’s on the same page. We provide academic, behavioral, and social-emotional support for children!
Some adjustments were made to this content, so the video is different. Revisions are underway.
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Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, caregivers, educators, counselors, and therapists to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them. For Rachel’s top behavioral strategies all in one place, check out her book, Building Confidence and Improving Behavior in Children, a Guide for Parents and Teachers. If you want Rachel to write for your business, offer behavioral or academic consultation, or speak at your facility about research-based strategies that support children, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.