As parents, we love our children and want to provide everything we can for them. We want them to grow up physically and mentally well, and we absolutely want our children to have high self-esteem so they see themselves the same way we do.

Unfortunately, many parents falsely assume that the best way to build self-esteem is through praising their children. Yet most experts say praise alone won’t build up your child’s self-esteem — it requires something more than that.

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Why Praise Doesn’t Always Work

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Although positive parenting has its perks, some parents take it to the extreme. In fact, some parents go to extreme measures to protect their kids from anything that may “hurt their feelings.” Unfortunately, Head First Counseling of Dallas says that protecting children from negative emotions actually prevents them from developing a growth mindset. Over time, this can actually harm a child’s self-esteem because it doesn’t provide the resiliency and determination needed to reach goals and persevere through challenges.

Without resiliency, children take every small hiccup as a failure. This causes them to either shy away from future experiences or limit themselves to spaces and activities where they know they can succeed. Furthermore, this can deteriorate a child’s self-confidence and push them towards feelings of low self-worth.

Alternatively, Lisa Firestone, Ph. D. of PsychAlive says that there are also instances where constantly praising your child can actually turn them into entitled kids who expect everything to go their way. This sets them up for perpetual disappointment and lots of arguments as they grow up. They may even look to others to do everything for them, which only harms them in the end.

How To Really Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem

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So, if praise isn’t the answer to building your child’s self-esteem, what is? Well, Heidi Lynn Borst of the Washington Post recently interviewed several experts who offered several great tips.

First and foremost, parents should recognize their child’s improvements and encourage them to make progress instead of just praising their kid based on their current attributes. Furthermore, parents should give their kids the time and space to problem-solve challenges on their own. By doing these two things, children build their internal sense of self and boost their self-worth as they see themselves come out of challenging moments successfully.

Most importantly, though, parents should provide unconditional love instead of never-ending praise. When children experience unconditional love, they feel confident and safe, which ultimately allows them to see themselves in a more positive light. Over time, this can build your child’s self-esteem and set them up for success much more than praising their talents ever will.

While it’s important to celebrate your child’s successes for sure, providing them with constant praise doesn’t actually give them the framework they need to build lifelong self-esteem during their child’s development. However, parents can provide a safe, loving home and plenty of support for kids to discover their talents and learn to love themselves — it just requires a bit of effort and a whole lot of unconditional love.

Sources: Head First Counseling, PsychAlive, Washington Post

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