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Parents are powerful influences in helping their children develop self-esteem as they grow. Research shows that adolescents who grow up with high self-esteem are less likely to abuse drugs or drink compared to kids who grow up without a sense of self-worth.

Here are 6 ways to nurture your child's self-esteem as they grow:

1. Listen to your child

Turn off the TV, put down the mail. Stop looking at your phone. Make it clear you are interested in what your child is saying to you.

2. Praise and encourage communication

Thank your child for sharing thoughts and experiences with you. Be sure to praise your child for coming to you with questions, concerns or just letting you know what they are thinking about.

3. Teach self-respect

This is best taught by showing respect. Speak to your child with respect – even if upset or angry. Never give in the temptation to shout or demean your child.

4. Focus on the positive

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has successes as well. Praise the positive behavior and accomplishments. Don’t exaggerate, but let them know you notice positive behavior.

5. Instill confidence

Particularly for adolescents, express confidence in their ability. Skills are not usually mastered overnight. Notice and praise progress. Teens are practicing how to make decisions. Help them.

6. Enjoy your child's company

Tap into his or her humor, energy and creativity. You may rekindle your own youthful side. Your child will sense your approval and see the positive qualities you admire.

Self-esteem builds as your child grows. Beginning in infancy, a child's self-worth grows through childhood, preadolescence and the teen years by interacting with you and your spouse and their environment. Successful experiences build along the way.

Warren Hayes, MD

Methodist Physicians Clinic Red Oak

A love of learning brought Dr. Warren Hayes into the medicine field. He is a family medicine physician who encourages his patients to take an active role in their health care. Dr. Hayes encourages healthy choices from a young age, because "healthy young adults tend to grow into healthy middle and elderly adults." If you visit Dr. Hayes's office in Red Oak, you may just find him juggling to entertain his younger patients. ...

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