Many parents - until recently, myself included - hold the mistaken belief that it’s important to shower our children with constant praise. Praising our children is instinctual, almost a reflex. Any time your child does something wonderful, it seems natural to say, “Great job!”
But we have to think about what we’re really accomplishing with all this praise. Praise can benefit motivation and self-esteem, but these effects aren’t always lasting. Our ultimate goal should be to nurture our child’s intrinsic motivation.
Effective praise, given at the right time, can nurture intrinsic motivation. It can help our children become confident, resilient, and self-directing.
Every parent wants to build their child’s self-esteem, but many are unsure how to go about it. Do we shower our kids with compliments 24/7? Do we shield them from failure so they’ll feel good about themselves?
These approaches seem reasonable, but they can actually be detrimental to our kids’ self-esteem in the long run. Kids build lasting self-esteem when they feel competent, accepted, and loved.
As parents, we wish we could protect our kids from every disappointment, defeat, or scary challenge.
Although this isn’t possible, we can teach our children to be resilient.
1. You can start by being an example of resilience for your child, and surrounding her with other adults that you feel are positive role models.
2. Praise effort and improvement so that your child will learn to embrace, rather than avoid, challenges.
3. Let them learn from their mistakes.
4. Teach your child that even the worst emotions are okay to feel, as long as she manages them appropriately instead of acting out or shutting down.
5. Foster independence in your child when it comes to solving problems.
This article includes a free printable "My Problem Solving Plan" for kids.