Childhood and adolescence can be a difficult time. As children grow up, they experience their first real disappointments and failures, and start comparing themselves with other people. School bullies and cliques don’t help. For many children and teens, self-esteem starts to plummet as they get older. In order to help them reclaim their confidence, you need to affirm them without setting unrealistic standards or expectations.
When your child experiences a major disappointment, remind him of his unique gifts and abilities. Help her see that just because she didn’t succeed at one thing, doesn’t mean that she is a failure. As a parent, encouraging your child is critical to building and maintaining self-esteem.
At the same time, you also want to be realistic. If your child is clumsy with no hand-eye coordination, baseball may not be the best sport for him. Let him play if he’s having fun, but try to encourage other sports or activities that may be better suited to his natural abilities. Even if your child is particularly gifted or talented, don’t push her too much farther than what she’s capable of. Talents take time and effort to develop, and setting your standards too high can make your child feel inadequate. If your child is a great student, it’s realistic to expect her to get good grades or take honors courses. Moving her up a class in school, however, could be setting the bar too high.
Lastly, know that your child is going to fail at something at some point. When that inevitable happens, don’t berate him. Yelling, accusing or comparing your child to someone else isn’t to help his confidence. Instead, work together to figure out what happened and how he can do better next time.