In this FAQ series, we asked clinical psychologist Catherine Gallagher “how do I make my child more confident and build their self esteem?”
At it’s core, humans develop greater self esteem from being known by those around us, being accepted for who we are, our truest self. In that regard, the first truly significant people around us are our guardians: Mums, Dads, significant adults. Certainly that can look different for each individual, but those who look after us as children are key to developing confidence in ourselves. So as a parent, if we accurately look at our children and recognise things, we need to verbalise them. A narrative that celebrates things they are good at, acknowledges the things they might be struggling with when they arise, yet loving and accepting them regardless. These are the building blocks to a good self esteem.
It is important to understand that being anxious doesn't mean you can't be self confident. Of course, there are times when we need to be supported to be brave, to be supported to build our confidence and to go out and do things which may challenge or stretch us. Children are exactly the same, but they haven’t yet developed the language or strategies to communicate their feelings or attitude in the same way. For them to be able to keep learning and having those experiences, they need to be supported in a positive and attentive manner.
One big challenge that is key to building and maintaining self esteem, is recognising our desire for them to not feel so anxious, to feel more confident in themselves, can ultimately chip away at their self esteem and make them feel worse worse. As children, we need to have parents who see us accurately, who recognise that we are a bit anxious, but who help us through those moments and not allow us avoid them. If you consider these approaches and practice them going forward, you are sure to have a positive influence on your child’s confidence.