All parents want their kids to feel good about themselves — and with good reason.
As a psychotherapist and author of “13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do,” I’ve seen many parents engage in strategies they believe will build their children’s confidence.
But some of those strategies 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 seven biggest parenting mistakes that crush kids’ confidence:
1. Letting them escape responsibility
While you might think chores will weigh your kids down and add to their stress level, pitching in around the house will help them become more responsible citizens.
Doing age-appropriate duties helps them feel a sense of mastery and accomplishment. So whether you tell your child to help with the laundry or take the trash out, responsibilities are opportunities for kids to see themselves as capable and competent.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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. Kids who recognize their choices in life feel more confident in their ability to create a better future for themselves.
Rather than allowing your kids to host pity parties or exaggerate their misfortunes, encourage them to take positive action (e.g., setting up a lemonade stand so they can save up to buy things they want or need). Kids who recognize their choices in life feel more confident in their ability to create a better future for themselves.
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