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How to Build a 3-Year-Old's Self Esteem

by Tiffany Raiford

The life of your 3-year-old is pretty exciting. Every day she learns something new, finds new uses for old items and she becomes smarter and more adorable – especially in your eyes. This is an important age for your toddler’s self-esteem. Everything you say to her and in front of her can either help to build her self-esteem or break it down. Self-esteem is simply a measure of how much your child values her self-worth. Your words and actions are more important than ever before, because building your toddler’s self-esteem now could have a lasting effect on the rest of her life.

Affection and Attention

According to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, 3-year-olds acquire self-esteem by being loved and encouraged in their efforts by their parents and other caregivers, according to a fact sheet from the University of New Hampshire, Cooperative Extension. When you give him plenty of hugs, kisses and affection you are helping to build his self-esteem. When he knows that he’s loved, he has no room for self-doubt -- self-doubt can have a negative effect on his self-esteem. Thoughts of self-doubt are those pervasive thoughts of negative self-talk, such as "I'm no good" or "I can't do anything right," according to Kids Health. When a child has good self-esteem, he says, "I don't understand this" rather than "I'm stupid, according to Kids Health. Kids with healthy self-esteem have a sense of optimism rather than pessimism..

Role Model for Positivity

Pay careful attention to what you say and how you say it whether you are talking to your toddler or simply in front of him, according to Kids Health. You can help to build your 3-year-old’s self-esteem by maintaining positivity and encouragement. For example, if she tries to build a fort with a blanket and some dining room chairs and continuously fails, don’t tell her that she’s doing it wrong. Tell her that you’re proud of her for putting so much effort into her fort even if it didn’t turn out the way she wanted. You can then ask her if she’d like a little help with the building process.

Doing Things for Himself

Three-year-olds feel a sense of accomplishment when they do things on their own with no help. Let him do a few things on his own, such as making his bed or picking out his own clothes, advises the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. His bed-making skills at 3 will not be as developed as when he's older, but the purpose of this exercise is to help him build his own self-esteem. When you allow him to do things like this, he feels proud of himself and that helps to build his self-esteem in a positive manner. Even if he fails the first few times at performing a task, when he does succeed, he'll have developed an idea of his own capabilities, according to Kids Health.

A Happy Home

If your child lives in a house in which you and her dad fight all the time -- or a home in which she doesn’t feel safe, the marital situation or other factors relating to safety may negatively affect her self-esteem level, according to Kids Health. A child exposed to frequently arguing parents may feel helpless over his environment and he may become depressed. On the other hand, in a happy, well-adjusted home environment, your 3-year-old is more likely to learn positive self-esteem. Make sure home is a happy, healthy one for your 3-year-old.

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