By Carie Connell

I thought I was doing the right thing as I praised my children for everything they did.  “What a beautiful picture”,  ” You are the best soccer player”,  ” Good job brushing your teeth”… I thought this is how you nurture self-esteem.  I was shocked to find out not only did it NOT create high self-esteem, it added to creating low self-esteem.

Praising your child for everything loses its powerful meaning and more importantly it teaches your children that they must seek approval from an outside source rather then inside themselves.

This seemed so strange to me…but once I gave it a try … IT WORKED… I can see such a difference in my children.

Here are 5 ways to encourage your child without creating low self-esteem

1.) Notice and describe what your child has done rather then just say ‘Great Job” or even worse ” That’s the most beautiful picture I have seen”.  Comments like these sets them up for failure in the future…How do you top a “great job” or “the most beautiful picture” the next time around?  The secret is in the details, showing the child you noticed send love and acceptance in a bigger way.

2.) Using action rather then words is a great way to show love and acceptance.  Instead of all those “great jobs” or “good boys”  try on a smile, a hug,  pat on the back or even a thumbs up.  Create a secret signal between the two of you that expresses approval.  My son loves the thumbs up code between us.

3.) Let your child to develop their own feelings and judgments.  Instead of saying “You’re a good boy for getting an A in Math class” instead try “I bet you are proud of that grade you made in Math Class”. This allows the child to develop his own feelings about himself.

4.) Acknowledge your child’s efforts as well as their achievements.  Point out the progress as your child gets better at something.  Emphasize that hard work makes a difference and its okay to make mistakes…try try again.

5.) Avoid Saying ” I can’t believe you…..” ...”hit the ball, made your bed” etc. .. this is what is called a  backhanded praise. Stick to #1 notice and describe what your child has done.

At the end of the day … all we want is for our children to feel love, accepted, happy and healthy.  Give these tricks a try and see if you see changes in your child, I know I did.  If you want to read more about this type of parenting you can look up Parent Effective Training or follow this blog as I embrace these new teachings in our family.

(Reference: Hold the Applause! by Anne Cassidy)