Building Self Esteem in Children-A Guide for Parents

Developing positive self-esteem is important for a child’s emotional and mental well-being. If children feel happy about themselves, they have more confidence in dealing with stressful situations and resisting negative peer pressure. They have a levelheaded and optimistic outlook in life.

On the other hand, children with low self-esteem frequently get frustrated and anxious. They tend to look at challenges as something beyond their capabilities, and would usually resort to escaping from responsibilities. They tend to isolate themselves. Some of them even become depressed.

As a parent, how can you help build your child’s self esteem? First, let’s define self-esteem as the whole set of beliefs and thoughts one has for oneself. It is how we perceive ourselves in relation to our surroundings. It is related to our feelings of being loved, and worthy of being loved.

A child’s self-esteem starts to develop at a young age. For example, an infant who just learned to take his first steps experiences an exhilarating feeling of accomplishment that boosts his self-esteem. Children learn at an early age that persistent efforts can finally lead to success. This builds their ideas of their capability to achieve what they want. They also get confirmation for their sense of achievement and potentials from the people around them.

Parents can help build their child’s self-esteem by being careful with their choice of words. Recognize your child’s efforts even if they fall short of a targeted outcome. Try not to insinuate that they did not work hard enough, especially if you have seen them putting in their best efforts for a particular task.

Parents must also be positive models of self-acceptance to their children. If you yourself have low self-esteem, your child might pick up your tendency to expect far too much from yourself. They can imitate you in the sense that they would be highly critical of their own abilities and limitations.

Be sensitive to your child’s inaccurate views about themselves and their capabilities. You must correct their hypercritical assessments of themselves so that they will learn to see themselves in a fair and realistic light. The inaccurate views can be about their appearance, performance of tasks, or their abilities. Negative self-perceptions tend to take root early in a child’s consciousness, and later on become a reality for them.

Show your love for your child through hugs and generous praise. Be sincere in your commendations. A child would be able to discern if you’re exaggerating.

Provide a home environment where a child feels safe and loved. Low self-esteem among children can be a sign of physical or emotional abuse at home. A child also suffers emotionally if he frequently witnesses his parents fighting each other. Likewise, you have to be watchful for signs of abuse and bullying from your child’s peers. These matters have to be attended to immediately.

Encourage your child to join cooperative activities, instead of competitions. There are some child mentoring programs where a younger child is paired with an older child and they get to learn certain tasks cooperatively such as reading, or arts and crafts.

Aline Heller writes about child care and parenting. To learn more about developing your child’s self-esteem, go to Self Esteem Children’s Coach. Another resource is The Happy Child Guide.



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