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Build Self-Worth In Your Child

Years ago, experts strongly suggested to parents that picking up their crying babies would spoil them. Today, of course, we know that is false. In fact, the more children receive smiles, hugs, attention and words of love, the less they will cry. You are the single greatest influence on your child's positive or negative sense of self-worth. Children can be hurt when love is not there. They may develop the attitude that there is no use in trying or that they are not worth loving.

Characteristics of positive self-worth: 

  • My child is willing to try new things.
  • My child demonstrates a sense of security.
  • My child says that he or she is loved.
  • My child shows that he or she is confident and capable.

Characteristics of poor self-worth: 

  • My child is usually sad.
  • My child is fearful, irritable and never tries anything new.
  • My child is often suffering from unexplained pains, aches, and complaints and doesn't seem to thrive.
  • My child frequently says he or she feels unloved, and he or she doesn't show love to others.

It is important to remember that all children go through stages of high and low self-esteem as they grow and face difficult challenges. Fortunately, many toddlers and preschoolers have a high sense of self-worth because they live in loving homes with lots of attention. Others, however, experience severe emotional abuse and neglect that requires professional intervention. If your child has a noticeably low sense of self-worth, consult a professional immediately.

To build your child's sense of self, try these activities at home:

  • Time-In Fun: Tip your child with lots of 5 or 10 minute time-in activities. Parents can use a token system to remind them and their child to stop during the busy day and take a few moments to have fun together. Place the token in a jar to see how much time you spend with your child each week.
  • Goodie Vouchers: Build your child's sense of accomplishment by giving him or her chores, activities and learning tasks that are age-appropriate. Place one goodie voucher under your child's pillow at night. The reward written on the voucher should cost nothing, such as a promise of time and attention with loved ones.
  • Memory Mosaics: Create a gallery of memories on your child's bedroom wall or in the family room where everyone can see. Your child can use photos or drawings to help create positive memories. Update the mosaic each week to focus on good behavior. Positive past memories should be remembered, too.
  • Love Notes: Leave a few notes (stickers, cards) of praise in places where your child will find them. 
  • Family Tree: Help your child learn about the family and who he or she is by making family tree ornaments each month that can be used as decorations during the holidays.