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Infants » Communication

Praise and Encouragement

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Building Healthy Self-Esteem

Building a child's self-esteem is an important task for parents. A healthy self-esteem in childhood leads to a child's happiness, positive behaviors, and an emotionally healthy adulthood. Self-esteem is not simply a gift parents bestow on a child, but the result of a child's ability to be self-sufficient, to be a responsible member of the family, to assume responsibility for his or her own happiness.

Ways to help children develop self-esteem:

  • Emphasize the good children do. Reward them with praise, recognition, or privileges for a job well done.

  • Notice a child's special qualities; give children positive feedback to increase a sense of worth and confidence. Let your child overhear you expressing your confidence and good feelings about him.

  • Set well-defined limits for behavior and enforce them. Allow some leeway for children within the limits.

  • Help your children to set reasonable goals so they can achieve success. Support their learning process. Have reasonable expectations for your children.

  • Teach your child to show respect for others. Demonstrate your respect for people of other races, ethnic groups, educational and socioeconomic levels.

  • Give your children responsibilities so they will feel useful and valued, and will learn to help others.

  • Feel good about yourself as a parent. Take good care of your marriage, or if you are a single parent, yourself. Be a good role model. Admit you make mistakes and show how you learn from them.

  • Share favorite activities. Spend time together.

  • Support your children, especially when they need it. Comfort them, encourage them, and provide a listening ear.

  • Go to their games, parent's day at school, activities, and award ceremonies. Talk with them about their interests and activities. Celebrate your child's accomplishments.

  • Discuss problems without placing blame. Children are more likely to share the problem and seek a solution if they don't feel attacked.

  • Use "please" and "thank you" to build esteem. Hug them. Tell them they are terrific. Show how much you care about them. Above all, LOVE THEM!

Words that Encourage

  • You're doing a great job!

  • You're really working hard today!

  • Now you've figured it out!

  • That's the way!

  • Great! Fantastic! Terrific!

  • That's better!

  • That's the best you've ever done!

  • Good for you!

  • Good thinking!

  • Way to go!

  • Keep on trying!

  • I'm so proud of you!

  • That's the right way to do it!

  • You remembered!

  • You're really improving!

  • Outstanding!

  • I like that!

  • Now that's what I call a fine job!

  • You did that very well!

  • One more time and you'll have it!

  • This is really great!

  • You really make my job fun!

  • Everybody makes mistakes sometimes!

  • I like the way that you are listening!

  • Thank you so much!

  • What a great idea!

  • Now you try it.

  • You can do it!

  • I really appreciate your help!

  • I know that is very hard!

  • I understand how you must feel!

  • What a nice smile you have!

  • I could listen to you read (sing) all day!

  • Your kindness is so refreshing!

Ask Dr. Susan