Supporting Parents. Fostering Change.

Raising Your Child’s Self-Esteem: Step 8

Help your child learn from mistakes

Children with low self-esteem are terribly afraid of making mistakes. And this fear makes it very difficult for them to take chances. It also can make it hard for them to follow through with activities. Instead, they become quitters because they’re afraid they won’t perform the activity perfectly. You can help your child get over the fear of failure, although it’s not an easy task.

Try the following:

1. Bring attention to your mistakes

React calmly when you make mistakes. Allow your child to see how you handle errors. Speak out loud about the mistakes you make and how you learn from them.

2. React calmly to your child’s mistakes

Don’t say demeaning things like,
“I told you it wouldn’t work,”
“That was not a smart thing to do,” or
 “You weren’t thinking straight.” 
Instead, say out loud,
“I bet we can learn something from this,” or “Don’t worry. Everyone makes mistakes.”

3. Always focus on what children do well rather than on what they don’t do well

For instance, if your child has sloppy handwriting, instead of pointing that out in general, you might comment on how neatly he wrote one particular word.

4. Talk about your own childhood blunders

Discuss how you lived through them and what you learned from them.

Regardless of how high your child’s self-esteem is, the above strategies can significantly increase his feelings of competence. A beneficial side effect of changing your own communication skills is that your relationship with your child improves and you both feel energized by the experience.

I hope you have found these 8 steps helpful. I will be highlighting self-esteem articles all next week.


Cathi Cohen, LCSW, CGP


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