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Personal Best Karate

7 Steps to Raising Your Child’s Self Esteem

Posted: December 26, 2017

1. Keep a Victory List: Refrigerators were made for this! Keep reminding your child of all the things, both large and small, they should be proud of. Many times children (and adults) do not give themselves full credit for their achievements.

A parent I know took the idea of a victory list and not only kept the refrigerator full, but also took the time to make a scrapbook of the improvements a child made each year. Yearly, the parent also wrote a two-page paper summarizing all of the positive changes and challenges the child overcame. On the child’s eighteenth birthday she will receive the scrapbook full of accomplishments from each year of life as well as the two-page narrative that goes along with each year.

2. Catch Them in the Act…of Doing Things Right: Having to wear the hat of being the disciplinarian can sometimes lead to only noticing or making a big deal over the things that go wrong. Nothing is wrong with correcting negative behavior as long as you are equally as passionate about drawing attention to accomplishments.

I worked with a dad who was a master of finding every little thing wrong with his child. Though he was doing it as a way of making his child better, it was driving a wedge into his relationship. After all, who wants to be around someone who is always telling them that what they are doing was wrong? After making the switch to looking for the good and then telling his child about it, the relationship started to be restored and the father’s level of influence on his son increased.

3. Praise Progress: Does it really matter if the sheets on the bed aren’t pulled tight enough to bounce a quarter off or if it’s slightly better than the day before? Take the time to acknowledge the progress. One percent improvement per day leads to 100 percent improvement in a little over three months.

In the achievement of physical fitness, I teach my students that small improvements over time will give them the greatest gain. One parent I worked with was very focused on their child achieving a fitness outcome. Though his child was making progress, he continued to fall short of the end goal. Since the parent only looked at in terms of pass / fail, it became very discouraging for the child. I shared the concept of praising progress instead of looking it in terms of pass / fail. It made all the difference in the world. The child and the father began to value and appreciate the smaller daily and weekly gains, and, of course, over time not only did they reach the goal, but they enjoyed the process.

4. Reward Honest Effort: Sometimes your child is going to fall short of the result they are striving for. That’s okay, and it’s part of life (as most adults already know). Just because they haven’t hit the homerun yet, doesn’t mean they aren’t trying, perhaps they just need a little more time. By acknowledging the effort you feed their desire and belief that they can do it.

At Personal Best Karate, we provide rewards to children for academic achievement, though are methods are a bit unique. From time to time we have a student who brings us a report card that by most would be considered substandard at best. However, they still receive recognition for a job well done. The reason for this is we only look at the conduct and effort grades. If those grades are As or Bs, then they get the positive reinforcement regardless of what the other marks show.

5. Be Their Biggest Cheerleader: It’s a nice feeling for a child to have a person in their life they can go to who will recharge their battery and keep them moving in the right direction. Being a continual source of motivation for them will help them realize their potential. Winning in life has much to do with psychology. By continually being a source of positive energy you are helping develop your child’s potential.

A number of parents I know make a point to be at every sporting event or activity that their child is involved in. Even though at times the child says it isn’t important for them to be there, it really is.

A father I know has a job that requires traveling several weeks out of the month, so it is physically impossible for him to be at every game. However he has the games videotaped, so he can watch them on his return. Also, he takes the time call in at the conclusion of the game to find out the results. I know another dad who couldn’t be at his daughter’s dance recital, so he ordered flowers and had a note attached, “Congratulations on your dance recital. Love, Daddy”

6. Set High Standards: Self Esteem needs challenge. Excessive or unwarranted praise is NOT the way to build self esteem. In fact, it will over time hurt the credibility of the person giving it. Though children need plenty of praise from parents, they also need to know from the inside out they are capable of high personal achievement.

I remember listening to an adult recall the influence a teacher had on her. She was a self confessed lazy kid and though her potential was great she didn’t realize it. Many of the things she did were done simply out of conformity. She accounted to me that it was her teacher’s belief in her potential that led her to eventually realize the incredible talent she had within her. Sometimes children need someone to believe in them more than they do in themselves. As parents, it is important to remember that honoring your child’s potential, even if it is temporarily unpopular and unappreciated will in the long run be pivotal in their growth and development.

7. It’s about PERSONAL BEST: We live in a comparison based society, where children often derive their feelings of worth based on how they do compared to others around them. Continually remind them the most important comparison for them to make is based on how they did compared to THEIR potential.

One of the parents I admire had a daughter that clearly marched to the beat of her own drum. She lacked some social skills, was physically awkward and didn’t seem to conform to the typical classroom activities that other children did, and as a result she was below average academically. Instead of pressing the child to conform to the standards of other children, he worked with her in a way that allowed her to find her path on her timetables. Many parents I know would have tried to get her to be like all of the others around her and as a result trade conformity for potential.

A few years passed in our relationship without me seeing his daughter. When I did, I couldn’t believe how marvelously well she was doing. She was attending a very exclusive private school and excelling far above the norm. When speaking with her, I was amazed at her level of certainty in who she was. She was able to achieve this because her parents never cared how she did compared to others. They were to busy staying focused on HER potential.

When reflecting on it, I realized that the biggest mistake that could have been made was if early on, the parents tried to get her to be just like everyone else. The result would probably have been continuing to have the same shortcomings she had when she was younger combined with an insecurity that she wasn’t as good as everyone else around her. Many times parents use comparisons as a barometer for how their child is doing. They forget that every child is unique and because of this, comparisons are often irrelevant. Keep your eye on your child’s potential and unique skills and attributes. True success in life comes from doing the best you can with what you have, NOT from being as good as the person next to you.

If you would like to have your child try our award-winning character based martial arts program that will reinforce family value and teach mental and physical skills to ensure they are safe, please go to the registration page to sign up today. I promise you that our team of highly-skilled martial arts teachers and mentors will make you and your family feel right at home.


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