5 Ways Parents Can Raise their Anxious Child’s Self-Esteem this Summer
As a fellow parent, I don’t have to tell YOU that it’s been a tough year!
Remote/hybrid learning for your kids, new work-from-home or evolving work schedule for you, social distancing from extended family and friends, and trying to eke out some sense of normalcy during these past 14 months have all been really challenging.
Everyone has been through a lot, especially our kids. Their confidence, sense of security, and even hopes and dreams for the future have all taken a hit.
Perhaps you’ve seen behaviors in your children this past year that have alarmed you – things like increased anxiety, fear, sadness or worry, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, changes in activity level, social anxiety, risky behaviors, and difficulty with attention and concentration. These are all signs of stress.
As we emerge from this long pandemic, it’s time to take a collective deep breath. It’s time for healing. Healing can take many forms but at its most simplistic, it’s about nurturing yourself and your kids and allowing everyone to feel what they feel.
As we launch into summer, let’s make it a priority to be kind to ourselves and to each other and to simply have fun creating lasting memories as a family.
But let’s also work on increasing your child’s confidence, strengths, and resilience. They need it now more than ever. Everyone’s self-esteem has taken a hit. What better way to spend this summer than building it back up?
How to Raise Your Anxious Child’s Self-Esteem
Contrary to what many people believe, raising self-esteem in our kids does not come from telling them that they’re beautiful, smart or a great baseball player. Those things may all be true, but that’s not what has a lasting impact on their sense of identity. Setting and reaching goals, accomplishing hard things, and persevering through adversity are what ultimately make the most contribution.
Here are 5 ways you can positively contribute to your child’s self-esteem this summer.
Focus on your child’s interests and strengths
Pay attention to what interests your child, what they do well and what they enjoy. Then make it a priority to help your child develop these interests and strengths. Focus more on strengths than weaknesses and call out those attributes in your child that support those strengths.
- Is your daughter interested in becoming an architect one day? Why not take her on the Chicago River Boat Architecture Tour and ask her to point out her favorite buildings.
- Does your teen have a green thumb? View the beautiful gardens at the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe or the Morten Arboretum in Lisle to encourage them.
- Is your son a budding artist? Then a trip to the city and the Art Institute of Chicago is a must!
Clearly, you can find all kinds of places to visit this summer that speak to the interests of your child – the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum – all located in Chicago and easy to get to.
Have fun together as a family
Kids need to know that you enjoy spending time with them; that you value being with them. What better way to show this than by planning some adventures or quality time together. If a family vacation is not in the cards this summer, there are still plenty of activities you can do as a family:
- Go for a hike at Starved Rock State Park in IL.
- Attend a Cubs or White Sox game. If you don’t feel like driving all the way down to the city, you might check out the Kane County Cougars who play at the Northwestern Medicine Field in Geneva.
- Attend a concert under the stars at Ravinia in Glencoe.
Spending time together not only strengthens the family bond, but it also sends the message that your child is both interesting and entertaining which only increases their confidence. In addition, having fun together as a family is a great stress reliever.
Help your child learn a new skill
Kids of any age can struggle with feelings of negative self-worth, especially if they notice areas in which they lag behind their peers. They might struggle academically, emotionally, socially, or physically.
When you recognize an area of concern or notice situations that are especially challenging for your child, try encouraging them to see it as a chance to grow and strengthen their skills and abilities. Could learning to play golf help your daughter improve her hand eye coordination? Would your son’s focus benefit from following a recipe and making meal? With a less structured routine over the summer, now is the perfect time to experiment with new skills and passions.
Begin slowly and calmly when teaching them how to do something. Show them and then help them while they practice at first. Then let them try it themselves even if they make mistakes. Be sure your child gets a chance to learn, try, and feel proud of themselves. Learning new skills is an excellent opportunity to grow in self-esteem.
Model assertiveness when communicating
Social anxiety is an issue many kids and teens struggle with on a regular basis, especially at school. Fear of failure or fear of looking bad in front of friends and others can contribute to anxiety in a given situation. And let’s be honest, social media isn’t exactly helping our kids master good communication skills.
Many children feel awkward, don’t know where to look when speaking to someone or even how to ask for something they need or want. Most would readily admit that they lack confidence in this area. Make it a priority to model and teach your child how to communicate more assertively this summer.
Start by demonstrating the difference between assertive, passive, and aggressive communication. Discuss how simple things like tone of voice, body language and nonverbal cues can all send contradicting messages, so they need to be consistent. Use the safety of your home to role-play possible conversations using a mix of requests and responses, tones of voice, and body language. As your child continues to practice and learn, be sure to keep encouraging them and let them know they’re making progress.
As a parent, it can be really difficult to let go of our kids but it’s so important to their development that we allow them to grow increasingly more independent. When we engage in “helicopter parenting” it sends the message that we don’t believe they’re capable on their own and negatively impacts their self-esteem.
Use the slower summer months to try on some new behaviors. Let them advocate for themselves with coaches or instructors in any summer camp or program they’re involved in. Ask them to select a recipe of their choice and cook dinner for the entire family one night a week. Teach them how to do their laundry and then let them do it on their own. Will you get some push back? Probably. But having responsibilities and tasks gives kids a sense of control over their lives.
Most importantly, when your child gets stuck and asks for help with something, engage them in the process of finding an answer or solution. Instead of jumping in right away, ask them to think through the challenge, brainstorm options or alternatives and come to their own conclusion on how to solve the problem. Doing so will go a long way in building your child’s confidence, resilience, and self-esteem.
Begin Online Therapy for Kids with Anxiety in Illinois
If your child has been struggling with anxiety due to poor self-esteem, there is hope! Anxiety is highly treatable and online anxiety treatment at Briefly Counseling can help.
As an experienced and caring therapist, I love providing online counseling for anxiety. To start your child’s counseling journey, follow these simple steps:
- Click on the Schedule an Appointment
- Select a day and time in my online calendar
- Or learn about me, your caring online therapist
- Watch your child gain confidence and feel better
I provide all services via online therapy in Illinois. Whether you’re in Naperville, Chicago, Champaign, Rockford, Libertyville, or Crystal Lake, I can help you. Schedule your appointment or consultation today. I look forward to working with your child to quickly and effectively help them in activating their strengths, resources, and resilience, in order to live with confidence and hope.
Visit my website at www.BrieflyCounseling.com for more information or call 224-236-2296 to connect with me personally.