Parents Do Make A Difference!

Developing an "I Can" Attitude and a Solid Belief in Self

by Michele Borba, Ed.D.
Children can have no better inheritance than believing parents. - Nels Ferre

Helping your child learn to believe in himself is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give him because it is a gift he’ll use forever. Here are 40 simple ways to nurture your child’s self-esteem and enhance his self-confidence from my book Parents Do Make A Difference. Remember, you do make a difference!

  1. Begin each morning and end each night telling your child how much you love him.
  2. When your child comes home ask, "What was the best part of your day?"
  3. Mark a spot on the calendar with your child that’s just for ‘special together’ time. Ask your child to choose what special thing she wants to do with you.
  4. Start a family motto , "Success comes in cans, not in cannots," to encourage her to think positively.
  5. Record yourself reading your child’s favorite book so he can listen when you’re not there.
  6. Teach your child to say to herself "I know I can do it" or "I can handle this" to help her cope.
  7. Give your child his own calendar to hang in his room and cover it with family photos to enjoy.
  8. Start a journal together that logs your child’s special successes and efforts.
  9. Tell your child why you like who she is.
  10. Ask your child what his favorite meal is and then make it tonight.
  11. Put a note under your child’s pillow confirming how much you love her.
  12. Frame your child’s picture and put it in a prominent place. Tell him it’s there to remind you even when he’s not there how glad he’s a part of your life.
  13. Buy a special candle and holder and light to together for a nightly tradition for just talking and reading together.
  14. Put up a bulletin board for your child to display her best work papers.
  15. Plan a Family Movie Night and rent your child’s favorite video.
  16. Remind your child why you think he’s very special and terrific.
  17. Write a letter each year about why you’re glad your child is part of your life and read it together then save it to give to him as a graduation present.
  18. Provide her with a small address book that has numbers of most important people. For non-reading children glue photos of the people.
  19. Set aside Family Fun night at least once a week on the calendar to play games and enjoy each other.
  20. Go to the library and read together Robert Munsch’s book, Love You Forever.
  21. Celebrate any improvement or effort your child has had this week.
  22. Make a small personal photo album pictures from infancy to now to enjoy.
  23. Make a batch of cookies just for your child.
  24. Catch your child being good and tell her why she is.
  25. Tell your child exactly what you appreciate about him.
  26. Purchase a journal to begin recording with your child special family memories.
  27. Tell your child why you think he’s a good and worthwhile person.
  28. Make a collage together using magazine cutouts, photos and words that show good times shared.
  29. Remind your child how much you respect her and why.
  30. Set as regular "hug times" on the couch.
  31. Hug her, kiss her for no reason other than the most important: you love her!
  32. Make a list together of at least 10 special qualities that make him lovable.
  33. Remember to call your child by names that boosts her feelings of adequacy.
  34. Compare your child only to himself and his own performance--never to another.
  35. Ask yourself, "Is what I’m expecting something my child wants or is it more something I want for myself?"
  36. Each week have your child record her academic progress on an audio tape so that she can "hear about" her abilities: poetry, math facts, spelling, storytelling.
  37. Set aside a special box for your child to store school projects and papers he is most proud of.
  38. Record your child’s accomplishments (big and small!) on 1x5" paper strips. Connect them in a long paper chain and hang it in her room.
  39. Deliberately say positive messages outloud so your child can overhear you and model them by saying the same about himself.
  40. Remember, have faith in your child, so she can have faith in herself.

Michele Borba, Ed.D. is an internationally-recognized consultant on increasing children’s self-esteem and achievement and is the author of 24 publications including Parents Do Make A Difference: How to Raise Kids with Solid Character, Strong Minds, and Caring Hearts. A former classroom teacher and parent of three sons, she has presented keynotes and workshops to over half a million participants worldwide and is a frequent guest on radio and television talk shows.

© 1999 by Michele Borba. Adapted from Parents Do Make A Difference: How to Raise Kids with Solid Character, Strong Minds, and Caring Hearts. Jossey-Bass Publishers, 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104. 1999. $18.00 paperback, 320 pages. ISBN 0-7879-4605-2 Order: Call: 916-939-8244 or fax 916-939-8246. Please contact for permission to reprint.

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