Sometimes parents will ask what they can do to increase their child's sense of self-esteem. I quickly affirm a concept I learned when I read the Five Love Languages of Children by Dr. Gary Chapman. In his book he references that there are five primary ways that your child will show love and desire love. These five methods of showing love include: words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, quality time, or acts of service.
One of the ways that you can determine how your child shows his or her love is in how he demonstrates that to you. Take a moment and think about how your child conveys his love. Does he show you love by saying nice things to you, telling you that he loves you, telling you that you're pretty, or saying you're the best mommy or daddy in the entire world? If so, your child more than likely endorses words of affirmation as a way to show his love. This means that one of the best ways that you can show your love is by telling him how special he is to you.
Perhaps you have a child who brings you gifts. In the spring he finds the prettiest flowers in the yard and brings some to you. He may draw you a picture and want it displayed on the refrigerator. He may make you paper gifts and give them to you and excitedly await your reaction. If your child gives you things to show his appreciation, he likely would benefit from you giving him things that show that you love him too.
Some children seem to really love physical touch. They want mommy or daddy to sit next to them. Perhaps he wants you to cuddle before bedtime. He seems to long for those kisses and hugs and eats it up when you stroke his hair. This child is more than likely someone who feels very secure when he receives love in physical ways.
Other children may gravitate towards doing things for you. They seem to receive extra pleasure when they've helped you with chores. A child who wants to help with the housework is a child who has figured out that doing things for mom or dad makes them feel loved. Watch for signs that they are "your little helper." Consequently, they will likely want you to do things for them. When you do things for your child, you will be solidifying your love.
Some kids have a need for quality time. Is it important for your child to spend special time with you? Does your child vie with his siblings for one on one time? Is he always the first child to request that you go outside and play with him? Is he keenly aware of the amount of time the other siblings get with you? More than likely this child has a special need to be loved by having quality time with you. This means to increase his sense of self-esteem and sense of love, you will need to use quality time to show him how much you love and appreciate him.
It's always fun to watch your child for a period of 24 hours to determine what his/her primary love language is although taking the test online or via the book will confirm your observations. The book will help you reinforce what you can do to give that all important message that your child...no matter what his/her age.... is loved!