One of the things we want to develop in our children is a healthy sense of self-esteem. While most of us know that it’s important to encourage and praise our children, too much of the latter can often have the opposite effect, especially if it’s baseless praise.
We want our kids to think they’re great no matter what they do, but our words of encouragement can only do so much. The best way for our children to gain valuable self-esteem is by learning, on their own, that they have the skill set, the intelligence, and the drive to accomplish things.
One of the best ways to encourage a healthy sense of self-esteem in our children is by giving them tasks to complete and rewarding them for completing the task.
Seems simple, right?
For young children, this type of “cause and effect” is best taught through household chores. For kids who are old enough to have one, a part-time job can be an even better example of self-esteem building activities.
Chores – Not Just For Allowance Money
Even very young children should do chores.
While your little ones may do more harm than good (often we end up re-doing the job after them anyway) there is something to be said about simply taking responsibility for an assigned chore.
While they may resist, requiring that your children do chores around the home is one of the biggest lessons in self-esteem that you can offer them.
Not only are you telling them that you trust them to do a job on their own (even if you don’t), you’re giving them an opportunity to witness real cause an effect: a job needs doing, I do it well, and then I get praised/rewarded.
Asking your child to do chores in the home can also make them feel important, included, and involved in the family unit. It teaches them that, as part of a family, it’s their job to contribute just as much as anyone else’s.
Chores can be especially effective if they involve pets. Taking the dog for a walk or remembering to feed the goldfish are wonderful chores for children, because they teach responsibility and also remind them that an animal is depending on them to keep their commitment.
You can choose to reward your child for a chore well done in a variety of ways. Many families decide to give a small allowance, while others use stickers or other small toys as rewards. Some families ditch the physical rewards altogether and opt for verbal praise. There’s no wrong way!
The important thing is to show your child that you appreciate their doing a good job with their chores.
Part-Time Jobs – Outside Affirmation
For children, having a part-time job can be even more beneficial to developing their self-esteem than chores done around the home. Children as young as fourteen are often old enough to do some sort of part-time work, and the benefits extend far beyond the extra cash.
While the stakes are a little higher, this added responsibility will only help with your child’s self-esteem, provided they take the job seriously and commit to it.
First of all, a part-time job involves taking direction from someone other than a parent. Children will learn quickly that, unlike at home, you can’t simply say “no” to your boss or put off an unpleasant task for later.
Secondly, children are directly “rewarded”, in this case, paid, for the work that they do. They’ll soon see that skipping a shift will result in docked pay and that not doing the correctly could lead to disciplinary action or even termination.
On the other hand, doing a job well, coming in on time, and following directions can all reap even better rewards in the form of a pay raise, a higher position, or more favorable shifts.
The Importance Of Constructive Criticism
No one likes to be criticized, especially children. However, giving constructive criticism is a very important part of self-esteem building.
It may seem counterintuitive, but explaining to children how they can do better next time, and then expecting them to and rewarding them when they do, can do wonders for your child’s self-image.
To prepare your child for the inevitable constructive criticism in the workplace, and in the “real world” as a whole, you can start by giving them a little taste of it at home.
If you ask your child to do a chore and they do it poorly, you can call them over and ask if they did their best work, and, if not, how they could improve. If your child resists, exclaiming that they did the very best they could, you can gently point out areas of improvement and ask them to complete the task again.
This will help them learn another crucial aspect of self-esteem building: accountability. Being accountable for one’s actions, both negative and positive, will help to nurture self-esteem.
Praise, Praise, Praise
It’s not all about criticism, though. While it’s important to point out deficiencies and help your child to find solutions, it’s equally, if not more important, to praise them for a job well done.
Rather than praising children for things they have no control over (their physical appearance, for example) praising a child for doing something concrete will have more lasting effects.
Teaching your child that they have the potential to do a good job, that it benefits them to do so, and that they’ll feel good when they do their best are some of the most important lessons in self-esteem that you can offer.
Written by: Ron Stefanski
Ron Stefanski is the founder of www.JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs. He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that. When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world.