How Fathers Build Self Esteem in Children

by Oubria Tronshaw

Toddlers are constantly storing impressions that will shape ideas about themselves for years to come, even if they don't yet have the vocabulary to say how they feel. From an early age, fathers can begin to build self-esteem in their kids by exuding patience, acceptance and unconditional love.

Affection and Response

Fathers build self esteem in their toddlers by giving them lots of love, cuddles and attention. Children who constantly receive affection and reassurance from their dads begin to integrate a sense of wellness into their core personality, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website dedicated to parental advice. Kids with a personal identity based in unconditional love are able to bounce back easier from life’s challenges, because happiness is their true north. Fathers who respond quickly to their toddlers’ needs train their kids to expect to have their needs met, which can translate to high self esteem later in life.

Fun and Games

Playing games their kids like to play is a simple, fun and effective way for dads to instill a positive self image. The benefits are twofold; toddlers get the message that they are important enough to hold Daddy’s time and attention -- which makes them feel special -- and they feel pleased with themselves because Daddy shares their interests. Dads should set up games so that your little one wins most of the time, to help instill confidence in her abilities.

Positive Speech and Reinforcement

Dads should repeat certain phrases and comments to their toddlers to help build their self esteem. Some parents suggest asking kids questions to which their name is the only right answer, so they come to associate themselves with positive traits. For example, the question, “Who’s a good boy?” “Who’s the smartest boy in the world?”, “Who makes daddy smile?”, “Who’s good at playing games?” and “Who knows his alphabet?” Dads who give frequent compliments help reinforce a positive self image. For example, “You make me happy,” “You’re so funny,” or “You’re good at sharing,” and “You have a great memory.” When kids make mistakes, dads can comfort them with "It's OK, everybody makes mistakes," or "That was a wonderful try, but let's try it this way." The repetition might seem redundant, but helps create a happy, emotionally secure toddler.

Boundaries and Discipline

Self-esteem isn’t only cultivated with hugs and kisses -- it also benefits kids to hear, “No,” every now and then. Fathers can help build their toddler's self image by setting boundaries and sticking to them, so that kids understand that rules and discipline are every bit as permanent as affection and love. Dads should use phrases that correct the action instead of criticizing the child. Rather than saying, "You broke the vase," fathers should say, "Play with your toys next time, since they don't break when you drop them."

About the Author

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.

Photo Credits

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