Supporting Parents. Fostering Change.

Raising Your Child’s Self-Esteem: Step 6

Provide Opportunities for Self-Monitoring

A basic component of high self-esteem is the ability to observe ourselves and to change our behavior to fit the demands of a particular situation. To encourage this ability, you can provide opportunities for your child to observe his own behavior and then make decisions about how to proceed.

Children rebel against rules when they don’t understand them or when they are imposed unpredictably.

If children are made aware of behavioral guidelines in advance of situations, they feel more a part of the decision-making process. They know in advance what the expectations are. This encourages them to take responsibility for their own actions, which is a key element of high self-esteem.

For example, try this for a child who has behavioral problems in the classroom. Give him a piece of paper with two columns—one for the morning and one for the afternoon. Ask him to monitor his own behavior throughout the day. If he behaves appropriately, he draws in a happy face. If he misbehaves, he draws in a sad face.

The goal of this exercise is for the child’s observations to match his teacher’s, since the teacher is also drawing the faces on a separate paper. If the child matches the teacher, he is rewarded. This gives the child a sense of control over his behavior. Even if they both draw sad faces, the child is rewarded for an accurate assessment. He is given a better reward for matching two happy faces. He is not rewarded at all if he doesn’t match.

This kind of exercise teaches a child to observe his behavior accurately and then to change it, if necessary.

Check back Wednesday for Step 7


Cathi Cohen, LCSW, CGP


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