Article at a Glance
• Children who have a healthy self-esteem are more optimistic and are better at handling challenges.
• Focusing on your children’s effort and not the outcome helps them keep challenges in perspective and set healthy goals.
• You can improve your child’s self-esteem by making your home a safe, loving place where healthy habits are formed.
• Develop a strong relationship with your children that will allow you to see if they are struggling with their self-esteem.
Self-esteem is our perception of our own worth. It influences everything we do and how we respond to the world around us. People with a good self-esteem are more optimistic, better at handling conflicts, and approach life with a can-do attitude.
Those with a poor self-esteem feel like they aren’t up to challenges and often give up easily. They are more likely to become depressed, apathetic, or withdrawn.
Our self-esteem starts to develop early. It is fueled by the sense of accomplishment we feel when we persevere to reach a goal. For example, reaching milestones like crawling, walking, riding a bike, and learning to read fuels our self-esteem. Often achievement and self-esteem feed off each other. A certain level of self-esteem is needed to persist towards a goal. Once the goal is reached, then our self-esteem increases even more.
Our interactions with others, especially our parents, also influence our self-esteem. When we feel loved we are more likely to feel an increased sense of self-worth.
Your child’s self-esteem is determined by many factors, many which are beyond a parent’s control. But parents can still have a huge impact. Regardless of whether or not your child has a healthy self-esteem, here are some things you can do to help nourish it.
Focus on the Important Things
We are often taught that it is the result, not the effort that matters. We forget that many successful people had to fail many, many times before they reached their goals. When praising your children remember to focus on their efforts. If they worked really hard on a class in school, focus on their effort, not the outcome.
When giving feedback, it is important to focus on the positive. Make sure you acknowledge their feelings, praise them for the things they did right, and encourage them.
Love at Home
Create a home where your children can feel safe and loved. Children who are frequently exposed to fighting, yelling, and arguing can feel depressed and helpless. Express your love sincerely and affectionately. Let your children know you think that they are wonderful.
People who have healthy self-esteems know how to set realistic goals and don’t expect perfection. Children often receive unrealistic expectations from the media, peers, or even parents. Just because we aren’t all models, athletes, or geniuses doesn’t mean that we can’t be happy and successful. Help your children to see where they excel and help them to play off their strengths. Show them how to indentify and redirect inaccurate perceptions. For example, not being athletic doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy sports. You don’t have to be a great athlete to receive the benefits of physical exercise.
Lead By Example
Children have a tendency to follow their parents’ examples. If you suffer from a low self-esteem and are too hard on yourself, your children may pick up the same habit. Show them through your example how to build their own self-esteems.
Develop a strong relationship with your children that will allow you to find out if they are struggling. Early and respectful parental intervention can help a lot with things like school problems, bullying, or any other kind of abuse.
It will also allow you to see if your child is suffering for a poor self-esteem. Things to watch for include:
Children with a good self-esteem see problems as only temporary setbacks and don’t belittle themselves when things don’t go as they planned. They have a healthy and optimistic view of life and the people around them.
If you think your child might need help, look into finding a therapist for your child or the entire family. Therapists are trained to help identify any potential issues and can teach others how to redirect their thoughts and see life in a more positive light.
Developing Your Child’s Self-Esteem (kidshealth.org)