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Build Your Child's Self Confidence

From always loving to paying attention, help your child feel good about herself


Mom having fun with her toddler
Kristina Hernandez/Moment/Getty Images
You know how special your preschooler is. How smart. How adorable. How wonderful. How lovely. How charming. You know how much she can make you laugh. How he knows his alphabet. How she can hop on one foot and ride a bike. You know all those things and you know how together, they make a pretty incredible person. But does your preschooler know that?

Building your child's self confidence is one of the most important tasks that we have as parents. Even at a young age, how a child feels about themselves is reflected in how they behave. By building your child's self esteem now, you will help her feel happier and more confident over the rest of her life. Here's how:

Love your child unconditionally. Want to make your child feel good about themselves? Tell them how much you love them. Use your words and show them with good deeds, hugs, kisses, and cuddles--all the time. Tell him everything you like about him. In the morning when he wakes up, tell her how happy you are to see her. When a child knows that he has unconditional love and support at home no matter what, his self confidence will blossom.

Discipline effectively. If your preschooler happens to do something that you aren't so crazy about, make sure he understands that he's being disciplined because of what he did, not who he is. Say something like, "I love you very much, but I don't love that you hit your brother."

Give your child something to feel good about. How often do you pay your child a compliment for the good things they do? We are usually pretty quick to discipline when a child does something wrong, but what about when they do something right? That's not to say you should be giving them an attaboy for every move they make, but if for example, your child has been struggling with chewing with his mouth closed at the dinner table, and then he does, definitely call attention to it and say how proud you are.

Work on your own self-confidence issues. How do you feel about yourself? Do you look in the mirror and become critical of your appearance? Do you get angry or belittle yourself for making a mistake? If you are hard on yourself, your preschooler will learn to do the same thing with himself. After all, you are one of the people your little one loves the most. If you don't set a good example by loving yourself, your preschooler will not learn to do the same thing.

Pay attention. When your preschooler talks, do you listen? Really listen? Or are you playing on your smartphone, or watching tv, or making dinner? Multi-tasking is fine (almost a necessity these days), but make sure that you don't get so caught up in the other things that you are doing that you don't focus on the most important thing. If there is something you need to do, tell your child. Explain that you want to hear their story or play a game, but that you just need to make this important call first, and then you'll be happy to listen.

Mistakes are O.K. Little kids can often be very hard on themselves when they make a mistake, whether they are frustrated they can't do something or mad that they got something wrong. When your child makes a mistake or has an accident, the best thing you can do is stay calm yourself and help your child either fix the mistake, or help him relax and calm down. When a child understands that mistakes are a part of life (that's why we don't call them "on purposes"), she'll learn to stop beating herself up so much after she makes one.

Encourage, encourage, encourage. For a child who doesn't like to make mistakes, or who is more than happy in their own comfort zone, it can be difficult to take risks. But a child who doesn't take risks is often one who doesn't learn. So encourage your child to climb those monkey bars or to finish that puzzle without your help, but with you standing on the sidelines cheering. And even if you do need to step in at some point, eventually they will figure it out themselves, and will be all the more prouder for it.

Let her be herself. Cousin Tommy is two months younger than your little guy and he already knows how to write his name. Your next-door-neighbor's daughter can turn a cartwheel while your daughter is still working on a tumblesault. Guess what? It doesn't matter. It's so tempting to compare our own child's progress to someone else's, but it is a recipe for making your child feel bad about himself. Instead, simply encourage your child to continue moving at his own pace, doing the best he can. If your child is the one doing the comparing and is feeling down that she can't do something, acknowledge the accomplishments of the other child while pointing out to your own little one things that she does really well too. This will help your child understand the importance of celebrating our differences and diversity.

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