At Martial Arts Academy, we are interested in building the character of our students as much as building their physical abilities. Each testing cycle at the Academy we focus on one of our core Life Skills. This cycle we are focusing on Self-Esteem. The students learn that Self-Esteem is the “Joy of Being Myself”. Life Skills are like any other skill and can be strengthened through training. Students of ANY age benefit from the training of these Life Skills, today’s topic however will focus on how we can help build Self-Esteem in children and young adults.
Whether you are a parent, a teacher, aunt, uncle or caring friend, most of us have children in our lives that we care about. Unquestionably, a healthy level of self-esteem is a requirement for a happy and successful life. The question is how can we help develop this in children? Many great articles have been written on this topic and I have taken the liberty of pulling ideas from a few of them. Here are just a few key ideas that several articles had in common.
To build Self-Esteem a child needs to feel COMPETENT: Kids need to be able to figure things out on their own. They need to feel capable of making decisions, managing tasks, and feel an appropriate level (based on age/ability) of control over their situations and surroundings. For adults, this often means stepping back, helping less and letting our kids solve problems and take risks.
Children need to hear REALISTIC PRAISE: Words are powerful and children know when they have earned praise and when they haven’t. Realistic praise given when earned reinforces a child’s sense of competency and ability. The more specific and detailed the praise, the better! Avoid empty praise. While we all want to be our child’s biggest fan, overpraising lowers the bar and tells them that they no longer have to challenge themselves.
CHALLENGE your child: This includes letting your child take healthy risks! When a child is challenged, and can navigate a new situation successfully it is a huge confidence builder. In fact, even when a child fails in some aspect of a new challenge it often results in higher self-esteem because of the perception of success at having TRIED something new. Challenges should be age appropriate, and of course some help from a parent or adult is always an option. The more a child can meet and overcome new challenges, the more they are building competency (see point #1!)
Let children CONTRIBUTE: Whether it is a list of weekly chores that are the responsibility of the child, cleaning up the classroom, helping cook one night a week, or walking the dog on the weekends kids need to feel that they are making an effective contribution. Even the smallest child can have a task that belongs to them. These small tasks are also a great way to challenge children as their competency grows.
Finally, children need to feel LOVED and ACCEPTED: Even when they fail, or make bad decisions. If they know your love and acceptance is based on the person they are, NOT on the things they do they will learn to have that same love and acceptance for themselves. Encouragement and support and the right amount of help when needed help multiply children’s good feelings about themselves.
At Martial Arts Academy we aim to build the self-esteem of each of our students (young and old!). Each class offers it’s own challenge to work hard and learn something new, our belt rank system ensures that each student is working towards a specific goal and our dynamic instruction allows each student to feel valued and important each time they come to class. It is our goal that ALL of our students develop a healthy level of self-esteem and then begin to learn how to build and encourage self-esteem in the people around them!
todaysparent.com “11 ways to help your kid build self-esteem”
kidshealth.org “Developing your child’s self-esteem”