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Building Your Child's Happiness

Jan 15, 2008
A recent survey by the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children's Health found that for parents, the most concerning aspect of their children's lives is emotional well being. As a parent myself, this is not shocking, but it does make me want to hear more.

The Secret of Emotional Well Being: High Self Esteem

Emotional wellbeing is at the root of all decision making. When we feel good about ourselves, we want to treat ourselves and the people around us well. If children are not feeling good about their lives, they more than likely will make poor choices and in turn will not feel happy.

When children are young, they look to their parents and family members for support. In the first five years of life, a child's self esteem is directly related to their interactions with their parents. But, as children grow into tweens and then teens, they are more focused on peer acceptance as they are given more independence and more freedom from their family.

If parents want to prevent substance abuse issues and emotional problems later on, they really need to start at a young age to help their children develop high self esteem. Children with high self esteem naturally grow into teens and adults with high self esteem. They are more likely to make better decisions for themselves because they see the value in their life and their contribution to the world around them.

Ways to Build Your Child's Self Esteem

As I have said many times, being a parent is not easy. It forces you to look at yourself and evaluate who you are as a person. It is not fun to ask yourself, "Am I the person I want my child to be like?" "Do I make good decisions?" "Am I a good role model?" "Would I want anyone else to treat my child this way?" These questions are hard because if you don't like the answer, it means you have a lot MORE work to do! Have no fear, by the end of this article, you will have some very useful tools to set you on your merry way toward family happiness and high self esteem!

Below are some simple things you can do to make you and your family happier. If you are already doing these things, great! Good for you! If not, don't worry. Write down the things that you want to focus on and commit to them. Stick with them and remember that by following these steps, you are increasing your child's chance at happiness. As you see your own behaviors changing, you will notice a positive change in your kids too. Then, go back to the list and see if you can add some more steps and maybe even come up with some of your own!

Step 1: Be a positive role model! No one is perfect, but think of the person you would like to be and be that. If your self esteem needs a little work, do things that make you feel good about yourself. Your child will see the benefits that you attain from this and will learn from seeing you work on yourself. This is exactly what role modeling is!

Step 2: Always focus on the good things that your child does. Of course you cannot ignore misbehavior, but you want to focus your attention on the good behavior. the more you do this, the more often your child will behave. Children do what gets them the most attention!

Step 3: Don't forget about yourself and your own needs. Take some time each day for you, whether it is 5 minutes to meditate, 10 minutes to soak in the tub or 1 hour of exercise. As parents and caregivers, we often neglect ourselves and this is a big mistake. When you work hard, you need to be rewarded. So give yourself the permission and the luxury of taking a little time each day for yourself.

Step 4: Tell other family members and friends about the positive things that you notice your children doing. This is especially wonderful if it can be done within ear-shot of your little one! By focusing on the positive things your children do and sharing this with others, it will be easier for you to see the good in them while also building their own treasure chest of success.

Step 5: Communicate with your child without criticizing them. When your child tells you anything about how they feel, treasure this for every moment that you can. Keep in mind that if you criticize any aspect of their feelings, they will shut down and refrain from sharing their inner most thoughts with you in the future. Is this what you want? I didn't think so. Focus on listening and reflecting back, "So, you are feeling sad that you didn't get a good grade? That's too bad. What do you think would make you feel better?" The more neutral you can remain, the more your child will come to you in the future if he or she has a problem.

Step 6: Place family photos (that include each family members in the home) in every bedroom and living area. The more emphasis you place on your children and the more visual reminders they have of your family unit, the greater the chance that they will understand how important they are to you.

A Final Note: Start Today

If you want to build your children's self esteem, make sure you are helping them to see all of their potential. Give him or her the tools he or she needs to thrive and achieve goals. The more opportunities your child has to do something right, the greater the chance that he or she will feel good about his or her contribution to the world. So look for the smallest of things that your child does right and praise, praise praise!

If your child feels like he or she can do anything, chances are pretty good that he or she can! People do it all the time. It is never too late to start focusing on all of the accomplishments and successes that your child has had. It is also never too late to focus on all of your own successes, no matter how trivial they might seem. You will never regret making the choice to build your child's self esteem, so start today and don't waste another minute!
About the Author
Britt Michaelian, MA is a family safety expert and CEO of Responsible Family Company, designed to educate and empower families to live safe, healthy and responsible lives. Read the blog and newsletter and order the award winning DVD or a Virtual Safety Consultation at http://responsiblefamily.com
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