When you have a child, you want what is best for them. You want them to be an unstoppable brainiac that is well behaved, smart, happy, confident, and has an abundance of self-esteem. Life for you and for your child would likely come with fewer struggles if your child had all these traits.
Today’s post looks at how you can help your child gain self-esteem. Unfortunately, you can’t give them self-esteem. They need to “earn” it for themselves. But, you can certainly help them earn it.
Note: It is not earned by beating a villain on a video game.
It is not earned by watching tv or watching sporting events.
It IS earned by doing, and achieving.
BUT, when I say help them, I DON’T mean help them do and achieve. I mean help give them OPPORTUNITIES to do on their own and achieve on their own. They need challenges that are just the right intensity for them. If the challenge is too easy, the subconscious brain will know that the achievement was not well earned and there would be no gain in self-esteem. If the challenge is too difficult, it may have the opposite effect on self-esteem. The child may have feelings of inadequacy.
The challenge has to be somewhat difficult (a challenge), yet achievable.
Take for example a seven year old. Perhaps learning to play the piano or the guitar is one challenge that is difficult yet achievable. Perhaps they could learn to type on a keyboard. Certainly maintaining their room to an acceptable cleanliness, including dusting, vacuuming, putting away neatly their laundry can be enough of a challenge to feel good about themselves. Playing card games, or word games at the appropriate level works well. Having your child help with cooking and dishes, with appropriate feedback after the task is complete.
Be sure the tasks are done to completion. Have mini goals if a task is large, such as learning piano. For example, have a specific song to complete to an acceptable level, or have a specific goal to complete.
Incomplete tasks bring self -esteem down on a subconscious level. Completion is very important.
Do not be tempted to give accolades to your child that is not well deserved. A good job is a good job. A bad job is a bad job. The subconscious brain cannot be tricked. Acknowledge the effort for work well done. Encourage a better effort for work poorly done. Your child will know if they have done well, but positive acknowledgement feels good. It is a reward in and of itself. If their performance is regularly poor, they will eventually improve given enough incentive and encouragement, and feel great about a job well done. Everyone wants to do well. This, of course, creates motivation for future "jobs well done".
It is best to start these challenge exercises at a young age, but can be slowly incorporated if your child is older. Going too fast may create rebellion. Get them used to a few completion tasks and positive acknowledgements to start. In contrast, very young children are quite willing and are excellent at vacuuming, putting toys away, putting laundry in a basket… and they are also surprisingly good at knowing whether or not they did a good job.
Another challenge to self-esteem is if your child is having difficulty at school. If this is the case, be sure to investigate the reasons why. Don't just accept that they will always struggle. It may be something simple.
Is it their diet?
Try to figure out specifically what foods your child should avoid eating by doing an elimination diet, discussed previously here, add in some healthy fats daily, ensure he drinks lots of water, and throw in some superfoods to ensure that he/she is getting the proper building blocks needed for optimal brain function.
In addition to diet, it is important to figure out what type of learner your child is. Is your child left or right brain hemisphere dominant? Is the teaching method used at our one size fits all school not matching the learning strengths of your child?
Some children show hemispheric dominance in their brain. Left hemispere dominant children, as discussed by Dr. Thomas H Crook in his book The Memory Advantage, struggle with spatial and visual problems, as well as the mechanical aspect of things. They learn languages, psychology, art, and music with fewer difficulties. They are naturally creative. Right hemisphere dominant children are great with spatial and visual problems. They can figure out the engineering and mechanical works that stump most of us. Knowing this early in your child’s life could help in their learning process so as to make all learning more achievable.
Hemisphere dominance is not a learning disability and I believe should not be labeled as such. As soon as a child is labeled with the word “disability”, it is difficult for the subconscious brain to overcome that negative connotation. Some children become their label and never fight it. They accept a lower standard and mediocrity. This does not build self-esteem. It is often brain hemisphere dominance and should be labeled as such.
What about the neuromuscular skills of your child? Do they move well and effortlessly? Or are they clumsy? Being clumsy certainly does not build self-esteem. Physical ability can be greatly improved by improving diet, and by practicing gymnastics, yoga, or a solo coordination sport like tai chi.
I mention diet first because several of the neurotransmitters that are needed to relay messages from the brain to the target muscle need specific amino acids. As discussed here, our processed diets are often in short supply of these necessary building blocks. Even if you offer your child unprocessed non-organic vegetables daily, the pesticide toxins accumulate causing brain disruption, and the soil is often depleted of the nutrients it once had years ago so the building blocks may still be missing. (I am a huge proponent of organic produce due to the fact that there are fewer toxins, and more nutrients. I would love to think there are no toxins on organic produce, but in this world, I think it is nearing impossible).
I believe that superfoods, such as spirulina, help bridge this void, and give an abundant supply of amino acids and nutrients to help the body create the neurotransmitters needed for movement (as well as for thinking, happiness, feelings of well-being, learning, etc). Add superfoods to your child’s morning smoothie and see what a difference it makes to their disposition, mood, happiness level, motor abilities, and learning abilities!
Yoga and gymnastics, on the other hand, train your neuromuscular system make muscle memories (engrams) that aid in all activities, as well as promote flexibility and balance. I believe all children should do yoga weekly if not daily. Works wonders on mobility (and mental state).
So then, adding achievable challenges, figuring out diet intolerances, figuring out brain hemisphere dominance, including yoga into their routine and throwing in some superfoods here and there are a surefire way to helping your child gain self-esteem and become…