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tips to improve your child's self esteem

Tips to Enhance Your Child’s Self Esteem

Try these tips to enhance your child’s self-esteem

Self-esteem impacts the choices we make, the company we keep, and the desire to take risks. Without a positive self-image, children run the risk of experiencing negative peer relationships, social withdrawal, and reduced confidence in their capabilities.

By adding a strengths-based vocabulary and opportunities for your child to shine, you can encourage increased motivation and positive feelings of self in your child.

Adding a strengths-based vocabulary allows you to frame your dialogue in a positive, support language.

Using words like “you could” vs. “you should” promotes a sense of control and confidence in your child’s capabilities.  Challenging your child to replace words like “can’t” with “can” gives ownership over the task and enhances the desire to try new things and enter into new situations. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t do my math, it’s too hard,” it would be better to rephrase that as, “My math is hard but I can ask for help.  I can work on my other work first that is easier, and I can try my best and continue to practice getting the correct answer.” As a parent you can encourage your child to replace her negative vocabulary with the positive.

Offer positive words of praise.

Whether your child has succeed in task or not does not matter; try to identify the positives that exist including effort that was exuded, the skills that were still acquired ( i.e. new time management skills, new friends in the process), and the success of putting herself out there to try something new. Additionally, it is important to highlight what your child’s strengths are, and continue to find outlets to let them shine. If your child is more of a creative, artistic type, enroll her in extra-curriculars that allows her to tap into her strengths. It is not to say that she should NEVER try something outside of her comfort zone, though, because through this she can learn more about herself. But it is important to provide your child with balanced opportunities to excel and grow.

Speech Delays and Talkative Older Siblings

Older sibling with younger siblingA parent recently asked me what to do when her child’s older sibling constantly answers for him.  While it’s caring that the older sibling wants to help his little brother, it’s also very important for each child to have his own space to learn and develop, try new things, and make mistakes.  So how can parents help?

What to do when an older sibling compensates for a child with speech and language difficulties:

  • Talk to the older sibling alone. Instead of being reactive, be proactive by talking to your older child about his younger sibling’s needs.  Teach him that it takes time to learn how to talk, and he can help his younger sibling talk by giving him space to try on his own.
  • Use positive language. Instead of telling older siblings what they can’t do, tell them what they can do.  For example, “You can help Jonny talk by being a good listener,” or, “You can be a helpful big brother by letting other people have a turn to talk.”
  • Teach older siblings alternative ways to be a helper. Praise your older child for wanting to help his younger sibling, and then offer him other ways to help. For example, he can help his younger sibling by being a good listener, by giving him time to finish his ideas, and by saying encouraging things (such as, “good job!” or, “thanks for sharing your idea!”).
  • Emphasize “talking turns” between family members.  It’s important for all children to learn conversation rules early on, which includes learning about listening, interruptions, and waiting for a turn to talk.  This can certainly be hard for young kids.  To help, emphasize “talking-turns.”  (“It’s Jonny’s turn to talk. Next will be your turn to talk.”)  You might even use a tangible object, such as a toy microphone, ball, or teddy bear, to pass back and forth when it’s each person’s turn.
  • Play games as a family that promote turn-taking.  You might take turns with a toy by passing it back and forth, play catch with a ball, or play a board game that involves turn-taking, such as Barn Yard Bingo, Candy Land, or Zingo.
  • Encourage active listening. Teach family members what it means to be a good listener. Use concrete examples such as, “You can listen by looking at the person who is talking,” or, “When you are listening, your mouth is quiet.”
  • Set aside one-on-one time for each sibling to play with a parent alone. Language development is enhanced through modeling, practice, and play with caregivers.  To make sure your child is receiving language-rich opportunities, set aside 15-20 minutes each day to play one-on-one with your child.
  • Praise the things that are going well. When you notice positive behavior, reinforce your child right away using very specific language.  For example, “Wow! You let Jonny have a turn to talk. You are a very good big brother when you let other people have a turn to talk.”

By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine, you can help your children develop healthier communication habits.  Older siblings have a special role as a “big brother” or “big sister.”  By teaching them about their special role, you can encourage your kids to feel more positive about helping their younger siblings. For more ideas about how to incorporate siblings into your child’s speech and language development, visit the blog, Encouraging Siblings to Help With Speech & Language Practice.

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