Get your children ready for school with more than new books, pencils and clothes. Silvana Clark, author of "Parent-Tested Ways to Grow Your Child's Confidence" offers the following tips for parents to develop children's self-esteem this school year.
Let your child make choices: As school starts, children are bombarded with opportunities to take music classes, soccer or join the chess club. Here's the key: have your child find out the details of each activity. A child over eight-years-old should be able to make a phone call or read a brochure to get the necessary information needed to make a wise choice. Younger children can make choices regarding which item to take to pre-school on sharing day.
Praise your child's accomplishments as appropriate: There's no need to clap and cheer if a 10-year-old uses a napkin at dinner (although there's nothing wrong with an occasional, "Thanks for using your napkin.") Parents sometimes feel they have to give a standing ovation to anything their child does. This school year, provide specific praise if your son decides to build his own kite for the science fair. It may not soar, but you can comment on his creative use of string and plastic bags.
Relax and laugh with your children. Children benefit from seeing adults use humor in a positive way. So you all overslept - instead of yelling, have a race to see who gets dressed in the quickest time. The winner gets to choose desert at dinner. Comment on how amazing it is that your family could oversleep and yet get out the door in such a short amount of time. Studies show that optimists have a higher level of self-confidence.
Encourage positive risk taking: Self-confident children have the inner fortitude to try new things even if it means a chance of failure. Encourage your children to try out for the school play or enter an art contest.
As a family, read a book together on a subject new to all of you. Take a fall bike ride on an unfamiliar path, even if you don't know where you'll end up. Children soon learn they have skills to make wise choices when taking risks.
Let your children solve problems: Do your children want to go to have the latest designer clothes for the new school year? Have them check ads or call stores to get the best prices. Ask them to brainstorm ways to earn money for their name brand items. Children develop self-confidence from solving problems appropriate to their abilities.