Teaching our children healthy habits to build self-esteem often starts with our own journey. That doesn't mean you need to have it all together for your kids to develop good habits—in fact, the more transparent you are about your own struggles and victories, the more your kids can see you modeling persistence. By being open, vulnerable, and intentional, you can create a safe space for your kids to grow. Create a space where they can ask questions and observe the practice of forming healthy habits, such as activity, nutrition, confidence, agency, and self-esteem. Here are a few places to start.
Focus on Strength
It's easy to start with outward appearance. We love our kids inside and out, but finding the right language to empower them without focusing on compliments or comments related to physical appearance can be difficult in our society. Focus on what your children can do, the strength and power of their minds and bodies, and how they can use that to accomplish their goals.
Be Your Own Fan Club
Self-deprecation is so easy to fall into, and the constant negative thoughts sometimes spill out into comments about ourselves, our bodies, and our successes or failures. I know I've been there where I catch myself Should-Ing on myself (counting those things I didn't accomplish when Sunday evening rolls around) instead of enjoying a quiet moment with my kids. Our kids see us and see how we view ourselves, and they often mimic that behavior. If we display self support, validating ourselves the way we would validate our kids then our kids will learn to do the same.
Support Independence & Celebrate Uniqueness
The world of activities and self-expression are boundless, especially for a kid. Another way you can help your children find hobbies and habits leading to self-esteem is by asking them things like, "what makes you special?" or "what do you think I love about you?" Help them identify their own hobbies, favorite foods, ask them for input on family activities, their wardrobe, afternoon activities and even the kind of shows they like most--this builds ownership of their choices and habits, which empowers your kids to build a confident sense of self.
Building self-esteem is not a linear journey, and that's okay! Encourage your kids to make their own choices and teach them to live with the consequences of the choices and disappointment. Be prepared for choices that may differ from yours. Encourage persistence. You're here to guide, encourage, and build those habits right along with your children.