• The Expert Scoop

Help Children Learn to Believe In Themselves

Regardless of what state or country I’m in, the question parents at my workshops ask me most frequently is, “What’s the most important thing I can do to help my child be the best he can be?” And my answer is always the same: “Help your child learn to believe in himself.” That feeling will lay the foundation for his emotional, social, academic, and moral development. And boosting that belief in your child may well be your greatest legacy.

Without feeling “I can do it,” a child is gravely handicapped from succeeding in every arena: at school, at home, with others, at work, on athletic fields, and in life. With little faith in himself, the child will approach experiences with a “Why bother, I can’t do it anyway” attitude, greatly minimizing his chances for happiness and personal fulfillment. The cumulative impact that an “I can’t” attitude has on his self-esteem is tragically predictable: How can he possibly feel good about himself with so few positive experiences to affirm that he is worthwhile and competent?

“I can do it” attitudes don’t develop automatically; our children learn them, and the first place they learn them is from us. Clear-cut evidence shows that parents who expect their children to succeed and communicate the belief, “I know you can,” produce children who do. And nurturing this belief is one of the greatest gifts you can give you child, because it is the foundation for healthy self-esteem and successful living.

Sometimes, though, parents and teachers unintentionally send messages that diminish children’s self beliefs. One of the deadliest habits that chip away at children’s self-confidence is any form of stereotyping.

Parents who expect their children to succeed and communicate the belief, “I know you can,” produce children who do.

Nicknames like Shorty, Clumsy, Crybaby, Slowpoke, Klutz, or Nerd can become daily reminders of incompetence. They can also become self-fulfilling prophecies. Regardless whether the labels are true or not, when children hear them they begin to believe them. And the label very often sticks and becomes difficult to erase.

Here are five ideas you can do to help prevent your child from forming deadly, negative self-images.

1. Avoid using negative labels about your child, whether you are in front of him or with others.Labeling children with such terms as shy, stubborn, hyper, or clumsy can diminish self-esteem.

2. Never let anyone else label your child. Labeling is deadly, but you can immediately turn any negative label in to a positive one. Negative label: “Your son is so shy!” Positive new label: “Not at all; he just is a great observer.”

3. Avoid making comparisons. Never compare your child to anyone-especially siblings! “Why can’t you be more like your sister? She’s always so neat, and you’re such a slob!” Making comparisons can strain a child’s individuality and undermine her sense of self-wroth.

4. Refrain from using genetic labels. Labels can limit your child’s view of himself. “You’re as lazy as your uncle.” “You’re going to be poor in math like I was.” “You take after your Aunt Sue; you’re shy just like her.”

5. Use one rule. One good rule to remember about labeling is, “If the nickname does not boost your child’s feelings of adequacy, it’s best not to use it.”

There’s much we can do to enrich our children’s lives to help them become their best. And that’s really what raising kids is all about. Good parenting and great teaching are not about how to turn out little prodigies but rather how to help our children live their lives to the best of their abilities. And that is an immensely powerful role. All the best in building your child’s moral intelligence!

For more information visit www.micheleborba.com.