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How to instil self-esteem in grandchildren

Grandparents with grandchild

While part of being a grandparent is getting to spoil our grandchildren, we also want to make sure they grow into confident individuals who value and believe in themselves. Having a child who lacks in self-worth is a sad thing but grandparents, along with the child’s parents, can play a role in helping the child to develop confidence and self-esteem in many ways. If you are looking at ways that you can positively influence your grandchild’s development, read on and discover our tips and advice.

Positive reinforcement

One way to build up your child’s self-esteem is to surround them with positivity. When they do something good, greet them with a positive reaction, when they try hard at something but fall short, don’t criticise but applaud their efforts and offer encouragement to try again. When they are little, positivity like this can be a big boost to their confidence and desire to try things. If they are a little older, you don’t want to praise them without merit and give them a false sense of things, but you can still offer positive encouragement while not flattering them excessively.

There are other ways you can provide a positive environment for your grandchild such as encouraging them to share positive things from their day. This is something that resource Grandparents Link recommends:

“Ask your grandchild to tell you one positive event in her day. Discuss why this occurrence made her feel good. Begin with this one event and build a ‘happy/good-feeling’ list. Put this list in a place that your grandchild can easily access, such as a bedroom or kitchen wall, in a specific folder, in a special drawer.”

Support them in their pursuits

granddad working with grandson

If a child knows that they are supported and that people believe in them, their self-esteem is bound to grow, giving them the confidence to reach new heights. As a grandparent, make sure that you are always there for them when they need you, even if they have failed at something. Back them with their goals, encourage them with their pursuits, even if it’s just little things like learning an instrument, competing in sports day at school, or their chosen career – no matter how ambitious it might be. By supporting them in this manner, they will grow up believing in themselves, even if they fail from time to time.

Sue, from the blog Women Living Well After 50, knows how this kind of support can help thanks to her experience with her own grandchildren: “I believe that encouraging my grandchildren to try, even if they fail at the first few attempts not only builds character but also self-esteem. Life is not always rainbows and unicorns, so whilst I praise my grandsons and tell them I love them, I am also mindful that it is more important to teach them life lessons.”

Elise Neve, Campaigns Manager for the children’s mental health charity Young Minds, spoke to us about this topic, and shared some important advice after detailing the origins of poor self-esteem: “Young people’s self-esteem can be affected by lots of different things, including bullying, exams, problems with friends or family and experience with social inequalities. If your grandchild has low self-esteem, they may have a negative image of themselves and lack confidence.

“As a grandparent, you can help them to feel better by showing them lots of love and being positive about them as a person – let them know what makes them special to you, and that you value their effort over perfection if they’re anxious about their achievements. Acknowledge their feelings and reassure them that it’s okay to make mistakes and be an encouraging presence in their life.”

Encourage them to try new things

Doing anything new can be scary, even for us adults! The fear of the unknown is common and if it is allowed to grow in children, it can have major ramifications for their self-esteem. If they have always stayed in their comfort zone, when new scenarios present themselves, they will be more difficult for them to navigate. But, if you have spent time encouraging them to try new things, they will have the built-in confidence that they can tackle whatever comes their way and have the desire seek out new experiences instead of retreating into their shell.

There are many ways you can encourage them to try new things and they don’t have to be massive endeavours, especially when they are little. Christine, from the grandparent lifestyle magazine Grand, has shared the following recommendations, saying that grandparents should take an active teaching role: “If your grandkids express an interest in learning anything, teach them. Teach them how to make salads, hang pictures, plant vegetables, shuffle cards, play bridge or chess, replace batteries in your alarms — literally anything you do each week that they don’t yet know how to do is something you can help them learn.”

Sue, from Women Living Well After 50, says encouraging her grandchildren to try new things is a tactic she employs regularly: “Encouraging them to try new things and teaching them the importance of not giving up proves to them that with persistence they can achieve. I see how confident and proud they feel when they have finally mastered something new. This is so much better than consistently praising them because building them up can lead to unrealistic expectations, and what happens when they fail? They are sure of my unconditional love and support and that beats being first at everything, every time.”

Foster a loving environment

grandparents with grandchild

When you see children that have been raised in an environment devoid of love and affection, they will often exhibit a lack of confidence and negative attitude towards themselves as a person. Children don’t know that it’s not their fault that they have been treated coldly. But by fostering a loving environment for your grandchild to grow up in, it can have the opposite impact on their self-esteem. Create an atmosphere of kindness and affection and they will not only learn how to be kind to others, but they will feel loved and appreciated themselves. If they start life knowing that they have qualities that people like and that they are loved, they will likely have a much more positive view of themselves and what they can contribute to the world.

Share your wisdom

One of the perks of advancing in years is the wisdom that (hopefully) comes along with it. By sharing that wisdom with your grandchildren, they can learn important life lessons. Let them know about your experiences, your successes and your failures. By doing so, they can learn that even those they look up to have had difficulties but have found a way to get past them. This will help them to be easier on themselves and to think positively.

This is something that online resource Proud Grandparents shares as a tip for instilling self-esteem in grandchildren: “Being in the unique position of being admired allows grandparents the opportunity to talk to their grandchildren about their own experiences with both success and failure throughout their lives. Kids will benefit from knowing that their grandparents were not always good at everything, and possibly struggled with some of the same difficulties that their grandchildren are currently facing.”

Talk to them about the challenges you have had and impart any advice that might be applicable to their situation. Part of a robust self-esteem is knowing that you aren’t the only one that struggles but your failures don’t have to define you, but rather they can be the making of you.

Tips for building self-esteem in grandchildren

  • Positive reinforcement
  • Support them in their pursuits
  • Encourage them to try new things
  • Foster a loving environment
  • Share your wisdom

We hope the above has been helpful. No matter if you are a brand-new grandparent or your age and wisdom has now manifested in the form of a home stairlift, there are lots of ways you can build self-esteem in your grandchild.

To read more about grandparenting, visit our news section or read some of our other grandparenting-related articles below.

This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.