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I am Enough!

Three little words, that contain so much meaning, and are so powerful! Yet for children and teens, complete self acceptance can be a challenge, particularly when they are constantly bombarded with comparisons to their peers, and social media ‘ideals’ of what they should look like and be like.

Self-Belief is often used as the main description of confidence, however it is only one of the seven key characteristics of confidence which all build on each other and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

The 7 Characteristics of confidence are: Courage, Openness, Self- Belief, Empathy, Honesty, Self-Discipline,and Resilience

When children use their courage to take a risk even when they don’t know what the outcome will be, and their openness to explore new possibilities for themselves, these assist them to build a strong self-belief.

When children have a strong self belief, they are able to be honest about their feelings, have the self-discipline to stick at things even when they are challenging, and the resilience to bounce back from difficult situations.

So how do I know if my child or teen has a strong self-belief?

Some common signposts of a healthy self- belief include:

· A sense of pride in their achievements and what they are capable of

· Able to see the good things about themselves

· Feel liked and valued

· Accept mistakes as an opportunity to learn rather than a failure

· Believe in themselves even when they haven’t yet achieved their desired outcomes

Some signs of low self-esteem

Children and teens with low self esteem

· Compare themselves with others and don’t think they are as good

· Don’t accept compliments but dismiss them with self-disparaging remarks

· Are hard on themselves and not satisfied with positive achievements

· Focus on their failures rather than their successes

· Often need to brag or ‘bignote’ themselves to feel worthy

5 Tips to help build your child’s and teen's self-esteem

1. Praise children for effort as well as achievement. If you praise children solely for their achievements, they can end up only valuing themselves for when they get things right and can develop perfectionist tendencies. Learning that it’s okay to make mistakes helps them to focus on valuing the process not just the outcome.

2. Value them for who they are not only for what they can do. Children’s primary needs are to feel safe and loved. While it’s natural to want to encourage our children to achieve milestone and goals, reminding them that you love them unconditionally reinforces their self-belief, that they are ‘enough’.

3. Allow them to make their own age-appropriate choices. When children are able to take responsibility for their choices and decisions, it helps them to feel more powerful and in control. It also helps them to build their independence and self-esteem.

4. Find opportunities for them to take responsibilities. Encourage children to contribute at home with simple tasks so they build their skills and competence and feel they are doing something that is important and valued.

5. Help them to set achievable goals. While it is great to encourage our children to set stretch goals for themselves, it also helps to make sure their goals are attainable. If children continually fail to achieve their goals, this can become very demotivating, discouraging and impact their self-esteem.

Remember that self-belief is a learned characteristic of confidence, and as parents and carers, being supportive, realistic and encouraging is important to help our children become the strong, confident and competent children we know they are capable of becoming.

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