Our childhood experiences help to create the individuals we become. Parents who validate their children, are consistent, and praise them for their accomplishments (rather than their appearance, good grades, etc.) have children with higher self-esteem. After divorce, parents can encourage their children to be resilient by helping them to acquire the skills needed to feel capable and optimistic about life.
Self-esteem means believing in yourself and trusting you did the best you could in any given situation. It’s based on your belief system – which is a blend of how you feel about yourself and the way you believe others see you. Your view of yourself influences your perception of what you can do, how you get along with others, and how you solve problems.
Perhaps one of the most important factors in the development of a child’s confidence is the way children see his or her parents interact with one another. Studies show that patterns of parenting after divorce that lessen conflict, encourage open communication, and adhere to a parenting plan where kids have access to both parents are beneficial for a child’s self-esteem into emerging adulthood.
To thrive, children need to learn to trust in their own abilities, as they experience rebounding from failure and develop a healthy sense of self-confidence. If you embrace your children’s imperfections, they will learn to be more persistent and less discouraged when they make mistakes.
8 Ways To Foster Your Children’s High Self-Esteem After Divorce
- Model confidence and optimism. This will encourage your kids to take risks – such as voicing his/her opinion even when it’s not popular to do so and taking on new tasks with a positive outlook.
- Create a safe atmosphere for your children to express his/her feelings – be sure to listen and validate them.
- Accept that your kids will make mistakes and don’t overreact. Explain to them that we all make mistakes and the important thing is to learn from them.
- Praise their determination and model resilience. If your children watch you bounce back from adversity, they’ll be more inclined to follow in your footsteps.
- Don’t bad-mouth your ex, as this promotes loyalty conflicts and may make it more difficult for him/her to heal from the losses associated with divorce. Don’t let your cynicism or anger impact your interactions with your kids. Don’t pass on a negative view of relationships to your kids.
- Encourage your children to follow their passions, develop interests, and practice talents.
- Recognize your kid’s efforts and strengths. These positive steps will boost his/her confidence in the years to come.
- Encourage your children to spend close to equal time with both parents. Be flexible about parenting time – especially as he or she reaches adolescence and may need more time for friends, school, jobs, and extracurricular activities.
Finally, recognize that your ex is your children’s parent and deserves respect for that reason alone. Modeling cooperation and polite behavior sets a positive tone for co-parenting. When children are confident of the love of both of their parents, they will adjust more easily to divorce. Keeping your differences with your ex away from your children will open up opportunities to move beyond divorce in the years to come.
Terry’s new book, Daughters of Divorce: Overcome They Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy A Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship, can be ordered on her website or amazon.com.