Self-esteem is something we all struggle with at some point within our lives. Embodying negative feelings of your value and/or self-worth can be extremely damaging, not only to your mental health but emotional and physical health as well.
Sometimes we outwardly display our self-esteem issues while other times we keep them bottled up inside. While adults are rather good at putting on a façade, children are easier to read. They haven’t fully learned to control their emotions, so it is more noticeable to identify how they are feeling.
Children begin developing self-esteem as early as babyhood. What they think and how they perceive themselves depends heavily on their surrounding environment. If babies receive positive love and attention, they are more apt to have strong self-esteem. These feelings of self-worth grow stronger as the baby gets to be a toddler.
As a toddler, they are learning and demonstrating new skills all by themselves. They receive praise for these actions which, in turn, makes the child feel good and worthy. The opposite is true for babies who grow up feeling unloved and unappreciated. Growing up with low self-esteem causes children to not be confident in who they are and feel incapable.
Every child is different - that said, some children may have innately positive self-esteem while others may face problems with their self-esteem. It is important to realize just because a child is having issues, it doesn’t mean they will be there for their entire life. If approached in the right way, low self-esteem can be raised.
Below are 5 ways a parent/guardian can help boost a child’s self-esteem:
One of the best ways to grow self-esteem is by doing things that make you feel wanted/needed. Whenever we finish a task or learn a new skill successfully, we gain a sense of pride and accomplishment. These things make us feel good. So, teach your kids something new and help them achieve mastery.
Start small – such as teaching them how to walk – and grow into things like bike riding or reading. Don’t forget, the praise after completion is just as (if not more) crucial for self-esteem growth than the help itself.
We just discussed the importance of praising a child and how it is beneficial for their self-esteem; however, you need to be cautious. Too much praise, especially in instances where praise might not be warranted, can do more harm than good.
An example of this might be praising your child for their performance in the school play when you both know it wasn’t good. This can create a “fakeness” within your relationship and offer up doubt in the child’s mind. Can they count on you to tell them the truth? Or are you just telling them what they want to hear? Instead of focusing on the result, try praising them for their efforts.
It’s tricky, trying to find a balance between praising but not over-praising and criticizing and over-criticizing. When using constructive criticism or disciplining your kids, be sure to use patience and empathy. Help them understand why they are being disciplined (without being too soft, obviously).
The words kids hear directly affect their self-esteem. So, if you are yelling harsh words, they are going to think of them as personal characteristics. Just as children need to think before they speak, so do the parent/guardians.
When children are allowed to decide things for themselves, it makes them feel powerful and in charge of their own lives. They gain a sense of independence and trust knowing their parent/guardian believes in them enough to do what is right. Furthermore, by allowing them to make their own choices, this freedom also provides them with the knowledge of related consequences. This strategy gives the child the chance to demonstrate their competence and prove they can make it on their own.
Unconditional love is amongst one of the only things a child truly needs to thrive. While growing up – at all stages of life – they must know they are always going to have someone there if they need it. Whether they fail or succeed, having that support shows them they are never alone and can accomplish anything. It is also important the child knows their parent/guardian loves them no matter what, even if they fail. They need to understand they will be loved not only when they prosper, but in the face of a letdown as well.
Help Children Increase Self-Esteem
Children are very fragile and impressionable. We, as parents, grandparents, and loved ones, can help them increase their self-esteem in a variety of ways. With our help, love, and encouragement, children can grow up and feel confident in the world with strong self-esteem.