This original piece was shared by The Local Moms Network Contributor Tamara Iglesias of Wellynest.

Building your child’s self-esteem is not about making them better, it’s about cultivating who they truly are and honoring the authentic growth and expression of their unique self. Often this can get colored with what parents expect from their children, or how they want them to be, but true self-worth comes from showing your child you love them no matter what they do and your love for them is based on who they are and not what they do. Here are seven ways to build their self-esteem:

Encourage Independent Play
Self-esteem stems from independent play, giving children freedom to test and explore their world, to build their imagination and run with their ideas. Where this gets compromised is when this play isn’t nourished, it’s when parents are constantly correcting and showing children that their way, their adult way is better, quicker, smarter. Children need trial and error, they need space, they need independence, but all this is actually cultivated through deepening your connection with your child, showing them you are the safest space for them to express all their feelings and then building a foundation of trust in them, that they then feel themselves.

Tell Them You Love Them-Often
In moments of stillness, away from achievement of your child accomplishing something share how much you love and appreciate them. An example would be to say “Joe, have I told you how much I love you today. How lucky I feel to be your mama, and what a joy it is to be around you.”

Actively Listen to Them
Often parents talk over children or don’t have the patience to slow down and listen. Actively listening gives your child a voice, it cultivates their confidence in expression because they were always heard by you and will go into the world expecting to be heard. Slow down. Kneel down. Look them in the eye. Repeat back to them in a different way what they shared so they feel heard. Be in the conversation with them.

Let Them Have Some Control
Allow your child to be an active participant in their own life. Include them in decisions, include them in the limits and boundaries of the home. Tell them what is happening each day and of course to them before it happens. Ask them questions, give them choices, let them make decisions and respect what they have to say.

Avoid Shaming Them
If a child does something you don’t like instead of shaming them, often in front of others, just state your boundary clearly and let them know the positive behavior you are looking for next time.

Use Corrections & Criticism Sparingly
Don’t correct your child on small things, it will only make them doubt themselves, model by example and trust they will grow into the most realized version of themselves.

Don’t Squash Their Feelings
That’s a fast track to a child hurting and struggling alone and developing unhealthy coping mechanisms to push their feelings, that were never allowed to be expressed, back down. Let your child feel all their feelings, give them the freedom to express and be in a healthy relationship with any and all of their real human emotions.

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