Being a kid today is anything but easy. It’s filled with difficulties like bullying, school violence, social media gossip, enormous peer pressure and overwhelming stress. As kids get ready to head back to school, what are some ways to increase their self-esteem, boost their confidence and bring more positivity into their lives?
Serena Brown Travis is author of the books “In Case I Forget to Tell You” and “Perfect Penny,” and is an expert in promoting positive and healthy dialog between kids and parents. She says with our busy lives and in these tough times, it’s more important than ever to emotionally encourage our youth.
Here are a few of her tips how to do this:
- Change your language: Avoid words like should, can’t, must and never. This is destructive language that sets kids up to fail before they even begin. Instead, use words and phrases that leave children feeling empowered. Try saying things like: ‘We’re going to try our best to…’ ‘If we don’t succeed, that’s okay as long as we learn…’ ‘It might take a little practice, but I bet you can get really good at…’
- Critique in a positive manner: It’s important to let kids know when they have done something incorrectly, but you must emphasize something positive. For example: “That was a good try. I really liked how you did…Next time, try and do….” Never belittle their attempts or shame them in front of others as this can leave emotional scars for years to come.
- Be more complimentary: There’s no such thing as giving too much praise. Kids are exposed to so much negativity these days that you can never overdo it on making them feel good about themselves. Simply saying ‘I love you’ is important but really lay on the compliments. ‘You look great in that outfit!’ ‘I’m so proud of you for getting an A on that test.’ ‘You played a great game of basketball tonight.’
- Be a role model: Remember that kids learn by watching their parents. Even when you do something or say something in passing or unintentionally, your kids see it and it molds them into the person they become. Don’t just talk a good game. Set the example and really be the person you want your children to become.
- Create more one-on-one time:The days of sit-down family dinners with deep discussions have been replaced by microwave meals that take minutes to consume. Dedicate at least 20-minutes a day of quality one-on-one time or to talk as a family. Encourage your kids to talk about their day, the positives and negatives. Work together to provide solutions that foster positive outcomes.
- Lift your kids up: It’s a nice thought to think your children’s teachers, friends, coaches and others are going to uplift your kids with positive messages. It’s also probably a little unrealistic. The reality is kids face more negativity these days than ever before. As parents, we must lift our kids up and make sure they feel good about themselves, believe in themselves and that they are excited about their dreams and future.
Serena Brown Travis