Last week we featured the Survivor's story of her experience as a victim of child sexual abuse. One thing she noted was that she was an insecure kid who didn't know how to express herself. Predators see insecurity as a weakness that they can exploit. Ask any expert and they'll tell you the number one characteristic that draws a predator to a victim is low self-esteem. Here are a few tips to build self-esteem and confidence in your children:
1. Model self-confidence. Kids are sponges. They are constantly soaking up their surroundings, including everything you say and do! Be mindful of this when you talk about yourself and others; use positive language and that focuses on qualities other than physical attributes. Try speaking daily affirmations with your child like the ones in this video. Kids really are "monkey see, monkey do!"
2. Don't get upset when life gets challenging. You don't have to be a superhero, acknowledge when things are hard, and demonstrate an optimistic approach to a challenge. Help your child see that everyone makes mistakes, but they don't define us. Self-confident kids aren't afraid to fail because they know that challenges and mistakes are moments for learning and that minor setbacks can always be overcome. Teach kids that failure isn't fatal, it's an opportunity to grow.
3. Praise perseverance. Overcoming an obstacle is hard work and should be rewarded. Learning not to give up will serve them well in the future and help them through their growing pains.
4. Encourage children to try new things. Developing new talents boosts self-confidence. Be deliberate about nourishing all parts of your child's personality by getting them outside their comfort zone. It's good for kids to diversify, it will help them find their passion. Try playing "Three Stars and a Wish" with your child. Have them identify three things they are good at doing (three stars) and one thing they wish they could do, then talk about how they can work on their wish.
5. Help children set and achieve goals. Does anything feel quite as good as working toward a goal and achieving it? Pass down that rewarding feeling. Setting goals, articulating them, and working to achieve them makes kids feel strong. Show your child how to turn dreams into actionable goals. Aid them in setting realistic goals and benchmarks to track their progress.
These tips can boost your child's confidence and self-esteem, but nothing is as important as the feeling of being unconditionally loved. Remind your child every day how much you love them, and that you believe they are perfect exactly as they are. Your love is like a suit of armor that helps protect your child from the inevitable adversities of life, and from sexual predators.
Want more tips on protecting your children from child sexual abuse and exploitation? We have virtual training programs live now. Visit revvedupkids.org/events to reserve your spot for "Safer Teen Girls" and "Protected While Connected" workshops. Interested in organizing a private group training? Contact us!