My daughter is seems to have low self-esteem. She says things like “I am so stupid.”
“I am not as pretty as so and so” or “I can’t do anything right”etc. I keep on telling her she is pretty and smart and fun; she gets annoyed and says “you just say that because you are my mother!”. She does have friends and is a decent student, A’s and B’s and she has a great personality. How can I get her to stop putting herself down?
When we compliment our children we want to avoid giving them evaluative praise- like “you are so smart”, “you have the best personality”, “ you are so pretty”. Evaluative praise is seen as mechanical and empty, it gives children a fleeting sense of well-being. It makes children uncomfortable and defensive. We want to be more descriptive when we praise our children, this will give them a positive picture of their capabilities and will truly boost their self esteem:
The following are examples on how we can accomplish this:
“You are the greatest”
Be descriptive and remind her of the times that she was helpful and kind:
“Remember the time, I couldn’t find my earring and you looked all over the place and found it. That was so helpful and kind.”
“You are so pretty”
Be descriptive and focus on her ability to put herself together:
“I love the way that blue sweater matches your eyes. You chose a good color for yourself.
The sweater and the skirt together reminds me of an outfit I saw in Seventeen magazine.”
“You are so smart.”
Be descriptive and focus on her accomplishments:
“I remember your last essay that you wrote for English class. It showed that you really felt Anne Frank’s plight and frustration. Your teacher also felt that way- remember her comments.”
When we praise descriptively we give children tangible pictures of their abilities and accomplishments that they can return to over and over again when they are feeling unsure of themselves and let down.
Learn more ways to boost your child’s self esteem by checking out our audios Parenting Simply workshop.
See you there.