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Every parent wants their kids to feel good about themselves — and with good reason.
Studies have shown that confident kids experience benefits ranging from less anxiety and improved performance in school to increased resilience and healthier relationships.
Some of strategies that parents adopted can backfire, creating a vicious cycle where kids struggle to feel good about who they are. As a result, parents may find themselves working overtime trying to boost their children’s self-esteem.
Here are the five biggest parenting mistakes that crush kids’ self-esteem:
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1. Preventing Them from Making Mistakes
It’s tough to watch your child fail, get rejected or mess up on something. When this happens, so many parents rush in to save kids before they fall. But preventing them from making mistakes robs them of the opportunity to learn how to bounce back.
Whether your child forgets their cleats before a big soccer game or gets a few questions wrong on their math quiz, mistakes can be life’s greatest teacher. Each one is an opportunity for them to build the mental strength they need to do better next time.
2. Protecting Them from Their Emotions
It’s tempting to cheer your kids up when they’re sad or calm them down when they’re angry. But how we react to our kids’ emotions has a big impact on the development of their emotional intelligence and self-esteem.
Help your kids identify what triggers their emotions and teach them how to self-regulate. Provide them with a framework that helps explain how they feel so they’ll have an easier time dealing with those emotions in a socially appropriate way in the future.
3. Condoning a Victim Mentality
Saying things like “we can’t afford new shoes like the other kids because we come from a poor background” reinforces to your child that most of life’s circumstances are out of their control.
Rather than allowing your kids to host pity parties or exaggerate their misfortunes, encourage them to take positive action. Kids who recognize their choices in life feel more confident in their ability to create a better future for themselves.
4. Being Overprotective
Keeping your child inside a protective bubble spares you a lot of anxiety. But keeping them insulated from challenges stunts their development.
View yourself as a guide, not a protector. Allow your kids to experience life, even when it’s scary to let go. You’ll give them the opportunity to gain confidence in their ability to deal with whatever life throws their way.
5. Expecting Perfection
High expectations are healthy, but expecting too much has its consequences. When kids view expectations as too high, they might not even bother trying or they might feel as though they’ll never measure up.
Instead, give clear expectations for the long-term and set milestones along the way. For example, going to college is a long-term expectation, so help them create short-term goals along the way (e.g., getting good grades, doing their homework, reading).
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