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Many parents worry about their child's level of self-esteem. It's natural to be concerned if your child has a habit of putting themselves down. Or, you may have a child who won't try new things because they're afraid to fail.

One parent I know became frustrated because her younger son refused to learn to ride the bike he had been bought for his birthday. He had seen his older brother having fun on his 'big boy' bike, and wanted to be like him but when it came down to it he knew it wasn't going to be easy, and just could not summon up the courage to try. The fear of failure can be strong.

There's no getting away from it though, it is tough out there for kids these days.

When they leave the cozy, protective world of home and preschool or nursery, there are huge challenges. Not only do they have to learn so many new things formally, but there is learning that goes on in the playground—a place where making and breaking up with friends, finding new friends, and knowing what to do and how to handle it when things are not going well, are all necessary skills no one really teaches you.

Self-esteem can be very fragile, and having the resilience to bounce back after a setback, or to keep trying even though it is difficult, or to get up when you have been knocked down, are big asks of all of us really, adults and children alike.

What you can do to nurture your child's self-esteem

1. Be a positive role model

Make sure your child spends plenty of quality time with an adult who listens, really cares and gives praise and encouragement. It's also important to allow for mistakes to be made, have reasonable expectations and encourage independence. We can teach problem-solving skills to set children up to succeed at least some of the time. While these are all very beneficial, the importance of modelling good self-esteem so that your child can see it first hand, is often not given enough emphasis.

You are a very important role model for your child. Children absorb so much from watching others. If they see a parent putting themselves down or brushing away praise or being self-critical, that is likely to become the behavior that they adopt. If you do this frequently, you may be inadvertently 'teaching' your child that thinking and speaking well of yourself is not a good thing to do.

2. Big yourself up

Talk about your successes, however small, and tell your children what you have done that you are proud of. If you have had a go at something, maybe it was a job interview or you tried to learn something new and challenging, talk about what went well instead of focusing on what did not go so well.

Instead of saying, "Some of the questions the interviewer asked were really hard to understand and I kept having to ask him to repeat things. I felt like I didn't prepare as good as I should have," say something like, "There were a few questions I did not really understand, but when that happened I asked the interviewer to repeat the question for me and gave the best answer I could."

Or, instead of,"I thought singing would be easy, but now I realize that my voice isn't that good after all," say, 'Well that was more of a challenge than I thought it would be, but I'm going to try again—it will be fun to see if I can get the hang of it."

This may be easy for some people, but it certainly doesn't come naturally to everyone. And that's okay—it's likely something inherent that you've learned in the past. As children, we are often taught not to boast or show off. Talking about ourselves constantly, and all the amazing things we have done can be a bit of a turn off to others.

3. Teach confidence, not bragging

There is a difference between someone who likes to show off all the time and to give the impression that they are better than everyone else, and someone who is quietly confident in themselves and does not shy away from saying so. If you pay someone like this a compliment, they will not shrug it off and say, "Oh it was nothing," but will accept your approval and thank you for it.

We can adjust how we respond to compliments and teach our kids how to be confident in ourselves rather than bragging. You can even call out the difference between the two in shows or movies that you watch together.

If your child is finding something difficult, consider how it would feel to hear them say, "It's so hard, but I think I can work out a way to do it, I'm just going to keep trying."Where does a 'can do' attitude like this come from? Some of it at least will be from you.

Life is full of challenges and disappointments, and to be able to ride through the turbulent times and come out the other side without being swallowed up, is easier if you have good, strong healthy self-esteem and an intrinsic faith in yourself. The seeds for this are sown in childhood.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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