How to Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem
A child who is lonely, insecure, or lacking in support or self-esteem is a more likely target of sexual abuse. Perpetrators look for vulnerable children who will be easy to befriend and groom. One good way to help prevent this is to ensure that your child has the self-esteem that makes them less likely to be targeted, or, if they are abused, to have the confidence to tell you.
Every child is different, but here are five ideas on how you can build up your child’s self-esteem:
Be kind to yourself.
Children learn by example. They hear what you say and see what you do. If you are constantly talking about yourself negatively or making a face when you look in the mirror, they see that. Instead, be kind to yourself and encourage them to do the same.
Celebrate successes–and failures.
When you’re proud of your child, let them know. When they’ve fallen short of a goal, help them work through it in a healthy way. Let them know that your love for them is not dependent on outside factors. Help them see that success or failure, they are still amazing to you.
This might seem strange to put on this list, but one of the fastest ways to make a child feel loved, appreciated, and seen is by listening to them. Be fascinated by what fascinates them and let them tell you all about it. Your interest will make them feel interesting.
Let them make choices.
Giving a child options and allowing them to choose one will help them feel both independent and empowered. The choices will depend on their age, of course, but make sure that they feel like they have some control over their life.
Spend time just the two of you.
Every week try to spend one-on-one time with your child. Whether it’s a bike ride, an ice cream date, or going to the library together, make a point of spending time together. Let your child know how important the relationship is to you.
As we said above, every child is different and each one will feel most special if you do something tailored to them. For some children it will be physical affection like hugs or high-fives, for some kids it’s spending time together, and for others it’s just being told how amazing they are. Think about what you can do today to build your child’s self-esteem. Not only will they be better protected against sexual abuse, but they’ll be happier too.