As parents in Singapore, you all have your own ways of raising your kids. Some of you raise your kids based on how you were raised. Some of you attended seminars and training on raising kids. Still some of you ‘winged it’: you raised them as you deemed fit. No one method of raising kids is exactly the same. But you will all agree that there are some things that you shouldn’t do. Like caning your child in public.
Parents are the ones who build up a child’s self-esteem. Kids gain confidence from their parents’ actions. They build this based on things you say to them. They also read your body language. Children are more sensitive than you might give them credit for. Telling your child that he or she is slow, dull, lazy, or stupid has a negative effect. It affects their self-esteem. Whatever parenting style you use, if it destroys your child’s confidence, it is a bad one. What you do or say o your child now will affect them in the future. It doesn’t really matter to the child that you mean well for them.
Here are ways that parents ruin their kids’ confidence. Are you guilty of any of these?
1. Getting Angry If Your Kids Make A Mistake
Your child is being a good little girl. She is helping you set the table for dinner. Then she stumbles and drops the cutlery. Nothing is broken, no harm is done. Suddenly you flare up and start yelling at her for being clumsy.
Getting angry at your kids for the slightest things teaches them something. It teaches them that making mistakes is bad. This, then, makes them afraid if learning new things as they grow up. And this will affect them in all spheres of life. During tuition sessions, they will not make attempts to answer questions. They are afraid of being berated for saying the wrong thing. On the playground, they won’t join in on new games. They don’t want to look foolish. They will never be bold, but cautious, timid, and always going for the easiest way to do things
Teach your children to know that mistakes are fine. Mistakes will help them to learn, to grow. This will help them build their self-esteem.
2. Telling Your Kids That Something They Cannot Do Is Easy
It is no secret that parents in Singapore want their kids to excel. You put them in the best schools. You arrange for a tutor and tuition classes for them. You tell them that they are the best. With all this in mind, your kids start to feel bad when they can’t understand some math. They are angry that they can’t read a certain passage in a book. Then you as the well-meaning parent says, ‘It is easy. I don’t know why you find it so hard.’
This doesn’t reassure the child. It makes them feel worse. Now they know that it is simple, but they can’t do it. They begin to think that their brains are blocked, that they are dull. Reassure them some other way. Tell them that what they are trying to do may be hard, but they will get it in time.
3. Comparing Your Child To Their Friends and/or Siblings
This is one of the greatest causes of low self-esteem in children. It also tends to create bitter sibling rivalry and broken friendships. Parents do it innocently enough. You say “Why can’t you be more like your sister? She is so neat!’ Or you say ‘Look at your brother. He is so good at chess.’ Or maybe the tutor during a tuition session says ‘You should all be like Caleb. He is very attentive in class.’
You may be using these people as examples. You only want to help your kid be the best they can be. But, in reality, the reverse is happening. Your child will feel even more inferior. Your child will alienate himself from those ‘good friends’ and find friends more like him. Your child will lose even more of his sense of self, identifying more with groups.
4. Judging Your Child Based Solely On Their Grades
The PSLE tests are a huge factor in your children’s education in Singapore. The scores your children get in those exams give a clear view of what schools your child will attend. However, some of your kids aren’t academically brilliant. Their strengths lie in other fields, like sports, art, and music. It doesn’t matter what tutor you hire, or how much tuition the child receives. But the children won’t focus on their strengths either. They will be unambitious because they know they won’t get those necessary grades in PSLE. If you have such kids, encourage them to focus on what they can do. Show them that they do a lot with what they know.
5. Being a ‘Helicopter’ Parent
You hover. That is what the helicopter is for. You are a parent that hovers. You are very protective and micro-managing. What your children are learning from this is not helpful. You are showing them that they can’t be trusted to do anything on their own. Allow your children to make mistakes. Allow them to learn how to do things. Allow them to learn responsibility.
6. Criticizing Your Own Appearance
This is typical with mothers. You may look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘Oh, look at my big nose!’ You may mean nothing by this. But your child is watching. Your child will start to wonder about their own nose. They become obsessed with how they look. Be conscious of what you say in front of your kids, especially about yourself. Show your children that beauty is only skin deep. Teach them good values and morals. Tell them not to judge anyone by their appearance, but by their character.
Have you ever done any of these? Now that you are conscious of it, make an effort to change. Your kids deserve to be confident and sure of themselves.
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