Although experts agree that it is vitally important to praise children often and with sincerity, it is not enough if you want them to grow up with strong self-esteem. Children need to begin at a very young age to develop an inner strength, intuitively believing in themselves. Likewise, if you want them to grow up fit and healthy, it is important to not only model this behavior, but to help them learn why it is good to take care of their bodies as well as their minds.
To build a solid foundation of positivity and healthy habits, Sharon Penchina, C.Ht. and Dr. Stuart Hoffman, who have developed the I AM a Lovable ME!® Series of books—with companion CDs— offer this advice for parents: advice for parents:
• Teach children from a very young age to tell themselves out loud that they are special and lovable. (use affirmations)
• Nurture a child’s sense of self-worth by helping them see the value of intangibles such as smiles, patience, and imagination.
• Embrace and celebrate each child’s uniqueness.
• Help them learn the importance of telling themselves when they have done something to be proud of — whether big or small. This will develop a core of self-confidence.
• Show children why traits such as dependability and creativity are important.
• Reinforce how eating right, staying fit, and getting enough sleep will help them enjoy everything more.
• Play breathing games. Breathing may be an automatic response, but proper breathing needs to be learned. Have children tell you how they feel after taking deep breaths and quick breaths, after slowly exhaling or releasing their breath in a short burst. Demonstrate how a deep breath can help them face both everyday challenges and occasional stressful situations.
• Discover together how good it feels to be active and know you are taking care of your body inside and out.
Children need to be able to express pride in themselves as well as hear it from others. When a child’s feeling of self-worth and self-esteem comes from within, the result will be life-long confidence.