5 things good parents do that actually hurts self-esteem

and self-esteem activities for kids that actually work!

 

“I can’t do it,” your son says. “I am so stupid!” he mumbles.

 

“I suck at this!” your teenage daughter screams. “I can’t do anything right!”

 

“Why was I even born?” your seven-year-old asks.

We all want our kids to be the best version of themselves. Sometimes we want this so badly, we inadvertently create the opposite. Sometimes we need to take a step back and assess our own behavior. Learn what you should do and what you shouldn't do! Also, explore self-esteem activities for kids that actually works!

 

[Click here to listen to my podcast episode on this topic]

Do you hear your children say these things? It can be alarming and nerve racking to say the least, right?

 

So why do kids feel this way?

 

Part of it is temperament. Kids are born with different personality traits. Some are go-getters, some are stubborn, others are timid and some have low self-esteem. We all come out a bit pre-baked. But the good news is the end product is far from complete.

 

That’s where you come in. What are you going to do with your pre-baked self-loathing child? Your parenting can move your kids past this state or it can reconfirm all your children’s negative views.

 

So how on earth do you help?

 

let’s talk about what helps and what doesn’t:

We all want our kids to be the best version of themselves. Sometimes we want this so badly, we inadvertently create the opposite. Sometimes we need to take a step back and assess our own behavior. Learn what you should do and what you shouldn't do! Also, explore self-esteem activities for kids that actually works!

 

#1) When we do everything for our children, we inadvertently teach them that they are not capable of doing things for themselves.

 

Your child struggles to get his pants on. He turns into a puddle. You do it for him.

Your child is old enough to make her own breakfast, but you wake up early to do it for her.

 

Some of us love our kids so much we’d do anything for them – and we literally do just that. We wait on them hand and foot. We cater to their needs. We are their maid and waitress.

 

Unfortunately, we are doing more damage than we think. When we swoop in and do everything for our children, they will lose the initiative and drive to do most things for themselves.

 

Self-esteem activities for kids:

 

  • If your children need help, always let them complete the last step. This will boost their self-confidence.
  • If your children are capable of doing something independently, but they want you to do it – don’t. Let them know that although it might be hard, you believe in them and their abilities.
  • Give your children more responsibilities each year. Can your children make their own breakfast? Their own lunch? Are they capable of doing some of their own laundry? Let them know that as they get older, they become more capable of doing things for themselves.

 We all want our kids to be the best version of themselves. Sometimes we want this so badly, we inadvertently create the opposite. Sometimes we need to take a step back and assess our own behavior. Learn what you should do and what you shouldn't do! Also, explore self-esteem activities for kids that actually works!

 

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#2) When we rescue our children too often, they never learn how to face life’s bumps.

 

Your child is having an argument with her friend. You call the friend’s mom and sort it out.

Your child has a huge project in science. You spend the day painting the project, while he plays in the backyard.

 

We don’t want to see our kids struggle – and some of us literally don’t. We swoop in and smooth out those wrinkles. We are constantly paving over any bumps in their road.

 

But life is pretty bumpy. Eventually, our kids are going to hit those bumps. After all, we can’t be paving the road ahead when they are in their twenties or thirties.

 

Kids who are constantly rescued can’t handle any bumps. We rob them of any experience that might teach them resilience. When they are not given the opportunity to work through life’s struggles, they lack the confidence and self-esteem to face life’s challenges.

 

Self-esteem activities for kids:

 

  • Avoid jumping in and solving your children’s problems.
  • Help guide your kids to problem solve and come up with their own solutions.
  • Praise your children for working through their own issues.

 

#3) When we praise our children for every minor achievement, they stop believing in our praise altogether.

 

I think praise is great. In fact, I am saddened by this new parenting philosophy that says praise is bad. What a ridiculous notion! But kids in my practice often tell me “of course my parents tell me I’m great. That’s because they’re my parents.”

 

Kids are not dumb. They know what an achievement is and what it is not. They also know when you are pouring it on a bit too thick.

 

Self-esteem activities for kids:

  • Save your praise for genuine achievements.
  • Highlight what you think your child did well (e.g. I love the colors you picked out for that picture).
  • Be low key and casual when delivering praise. Subtle, natural comments have a bigger impact.

 

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#4) When we are constantly telling our kids how to do things better, they never get to celebrate what they already do well.

 

In this day and age of accelerated and gifted programs, club sports and competitive dance and cheer – we are constantly trying to improve our children’s skills.

 

“When you made that pass, you should have…”

“You got an 89, but if you studied harder you could have gotten…”

“The next time you do that flip you need to…”

 

If your boss was constantly telling you what you did wrong, would you want to work with him? Probably not. We want to help our kids, but sometimes our help is actually a hindrance. Kids need to be motivated and their strengths need to be highlighted.

 

Self-esteem activities for kids:

  • Before giving criticism, highlight one thing your child is doing well.
  • When giving structural criticism, avoid using demeaning language (e.g. What were you thinking?)

 

#5) When we force our kids to stay in activities that they don’t want to be in, it has the potential to hurt their self-confidence.

 

Time and time again I hear parents tell me “He wants to quit, but we aren’t raising a quitter.” or “We want to teach her that you have to finish what you started.”

 

Yes, we don’t want to raise quitters. And yes, we want to teach our kids responsibility. But what if your child is way out of his league? What if he is embarrassingly bad? Your kid knows he’s bad. His teammates know he’s bad. Is it worth him going through the whole season week after week being humiliated and possibly harassed by his teammates?

 

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It is definitely good for kids to try out various activities and sports. It is also good for us to teach our kids about commitment when they join a team or activity. But as parents, we need to know when to cut our losses. We need to not be so rigid in this belief that we can’t bail if our child is truly suffering.

 

Other ways to improve a child’s self-esteem:

 

  • What is your child good at? Are they amazing at Legos? Are they knowledgeable when it comes to animals, the ocean, space…etc.?
  • Find what they are good at and make them the family “expert” in that area. Do you have a question about animals? Ask the family expert. Do you need to make a dessert? Ask the family baker.
  • Create tasks or ask questions that only the family expert can do!
  • Have one child help the other. Does your youngest need help with her letters? Instead of jumping in and helping, have your older child help. You can say something like, “You are so good with your letters, can you help your sister learn hers?”

 

When kids are given the opportunity to lead and teach, their self-esteem improves!

 

***

 

We all want our kids to be the best version of themselves. Sometimes we want this so badly, we inadvertently create the opposite. Sometimes we need to take a step back and assess our own behavior.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

How do you help your child’s self-esteem? Do you have some self-esteem activities for kids that works well for you? Leave a comment and share your ideas! Do you know someone who could benefit from learning how to improve their children’s self-esteem? Share this article with them!

 

Other Articles on Boosting Children’s Self-Esteem:

Dove Self-Esteem Project: Helping to Build Confidence

Self-Esteem Activities for Children, Teens, and Young Adults

Self-Esteem and Character Building Activities for Kids

 

Self-Esteem Printable Worksheets:

Self-Esteem Worksheets for Adolescents

Self-Esteem Worksheets

 

Books on Improving Children’s Self-Esteem:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 responses to “5 Things Good Parents Do That Actually Hurts Self-Esteem and Self-Esteem Activities for Kids that Actually Work!”

  1. Marcie Carbin says:

    Great tips.

  2. Yudith says:

    I like the metaphor “pre-baked” you use to explain that children are born with personality traits including sometimes low self esteem and that they are very malleable and therefore parents role and influence is very significant. Thank you for sharing these great tips for parents to help children to boost self esteem.

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