By Dr. Ron Taffel, Family Therapist
What are some ideas for helping my son with his self-esteem and confidence? We always say we're proud of him and "good job," but he still seems to have a low self-esteem.
Many of us have the idea that saying "Good job! How proud we are of you!" will help our child's self-esteem. It does — to a certain extent. But we have to be careful: resilient self-esteem is based not so much on how many times we say we're proud, rather on how authentic the praise is. Kids learn early on the difference between authentic praise and reflexively saying, "Good job, great work."
If your child has difficulties, it may be that you are praising him enough, but not at the right times. Here's the difference — when he is able to put real effort into accomplishing something that is tough for him, when he is able to prevail over the more difficult aspects of his own temperament — that's a good time to praise. For example, if he usually has trouble waiting his turn, and shows a little bit extra bit of patience, that is a great moment to praise with authentic enthusiasm. Your son will feel it is deserved and will feel genuinely proud.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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