Self-esteem activities for children: talking with and at your kids

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One of the best self-esteem activities for children is to have a loving parent talk with them. There has been lots of research on family communication that has repeatedly confirmed that we spend very little time actually talking with our children (less than 20 minutes a day) and most of our time talking at them complaining, commanding, criticizing, nagging and just plain moaning at them. As children grow older and enter their teens the ratio of negative to positive comments appears to increase and when we do say something to them, it’s not likely to increase their sense of self-worth or self- esteem.

Many parents I work with make the mistake of talking at their kids instead of with them – one feels like being included while the other feels like being lectured at and it feels like a one way conversation, so just be mindful of not going on too much and remember, that we have one mouth and two ears for a reason!

One simple way to build your child’s self-esteem is to STOP reminding and reprimanding and change to focusing on WHAT THEY GET RIGHT and to tell them regularly and often how much they are loved, appreciated, and valued.

I’m also a great advocate of eating together as a family as often as you can, because one easy place to chat is over a meal so make sure you ask your children simple questions like:

“What was the best part of your day?”

“What made you laugh today?”

Or get the conversation flowing by asking wilder questions like:

“If you were invisible – where would you go?”

“What’s your favorite birthday memory?”

“If you were a cartoon character – who would you be?”

Include children in the conversation by asking them open-ended questions that open up conversations not close them down – and  keep away from nagging about eating their broccoli and holding their knife and fork correctly all the time!

Get them to talk and tell you about you about what they see, what they hear or how they feel as it helps children feel heard and a child who feels heard feels understood and valued.

So just for this week imagine you have a camcorder on your shoulder observing the way you talk with your kids and if you don’t like what you see, don’t beat yourself up, just decide to make a few mall changes that will make a big difference over time.

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“Using this reading program, my son’s reading skills have been raised to a level well beyond his grade.  I cannot credit the Reading Kingdom enough for raising my son’s self-esteem and guiding him on a path to achieving his full potential.” — V.W. Shiah, M.D. and parent