As a parent, you have a dramatic effect on your child’s self esteem. Your encouragement when she is discouraged provides a temporary voice that tells her to keep going until she is able to tell that to herself. Every child must master the emotions of defeat, being able to persevere when things get tough, and keeping coming back despite failure. Children with a realistic sense of self do not become shattered when they do not succeed and are able to use self-talk to soothe their upset feelings.
Your child will develop a realistic sense of self from mirroring what you tell her. Honest feedback is what works. Praise in times of success is easy. It is in times of defeat that it is most difficult to help your child maintain her self esteem. Some reality-based encouraging words might include, “I know you are disappointed, but
• you sure looked like you were really trying hard.”
• you put forth a really good effort and that’s what really counts.”
• it’s the fun of it that is important, not the outcome.”
• you can be proud of yourself for hanging in there.”
• you are handling your upset really well.”