SELF-ESTEEM IN CHILDREN
If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd build self esteem first, and the house later.
I'd fingerpaint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I'd model less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.
by Diane Loomans
When a child is born, they don't feel good or bad about themselves. They have no concept of self-esteem yet, and will develop it by watching and listening to the adults around them.
Healthy self-esteem is important as it helps children develop a good self-worth and they are able to face the challenges of the world around them. Having a healthy esteem means that our esteem is balanced and not too low or too high. When children have low esteem, they think poorly about themselves and it is difficult for them to make proper decisions. With esteem that is too high, it can be equally difficult for a child to make good decisions because they think too highly of themselves, becoming egocentric and not really caring about other people.
Adults need to realize the importance of helping a child build a healthy, balanced esteem.
|Children with healthy esteem:
||Children with poor esteem:
*feel good about themselves
*resist negative pressures
*enjoy interacting with others
*know strengths and weaknesses
*are caring and helpful
*do well in school
*feel poorly about themselves
*give up easily
*don't try new things
*are disappointed in themselves
*don't join in group activities
*are dependent on others
*do poorly in school
How can parents (and other adults) help their children build esteem? Following is a list of ideas. These can also be viewed as a slide presentation by clicking here.
1) Create a safe, loving home environment - This is the most important thing that a child needs - to feel loved and safe. Give hugs and tell them you are proud of them. Respect your children and help them to build confidence. When they have problems with peers or other adults, deal with these issues quickly and sensitively so it will not affect their self-esteem in a negative way.
2) Be a positive role model - It is hard to be a good parent as we tend to be negative about our own abilities and have bad habits that we don't want our children to pick up. Females are especially critical about their self-image and this may be passed along to their children. Try to be positive about yourself and work on building your own self-esteem so your child will have a good role model. Discuss how society creates an unrealistic image of beauty and help them understand that real beauty is not just how they look, it comes from within.
3) Watch what you say and do - Children listen to everything that an adult says and watch everything that an adult does. Be careful with your words and actions as they may be imitated. Children want to be like their parents so they will pick up a lot of your good and bad habits. You might just discover a bad habit in your child that has come directly through you.
4) Encourage and give praise - Encourage your child to try new things and praise them for a job well done. If they have really tried their best, tell them how proud you are of their effort. Help them understand that they will sometimes fail, but that it is okay because they can't always be successful. Teach them how to learn something positive from their mistakes.
5) Help them deal with emotions in a positive way - Children will become upset and angry sometimes, but they need to know it is okay to feel this way and even cry about things. Teach them how to deal effectively with their emotions - to act, but not react. Explain that when they have these emotions, it is not okay to hurt themself, hurt others or break anything. They need to learn how to stop and think before making a decision as to what they will do.
6) Communicate with your child - Listen to what your child is saying even if you don't agree with them or want to listen. It is important that a child feels like you are listening, so they can build confidence in their speaking abilities and feel like they are valued. If your child feels like they can talk to you about anything, it will build a good relationship between parent and child and they will be more likely to talk with you when serious issues arise.
7) Help set realistic goals - Goals give purpose to life and will help your child keep focused on what they want to achieve. Help them write down their goals and check regularly to make sure they are following them.
8) Encourage your child to engage in positive activities - Keeping active in a positive way will help build confidence and increase esteem. These activities could include sports, exercise, activity groups and music. Activities that involve helping others or volunteering are valuable in fostering self-esteem. Volunteering not only benefits the receiver, it also benefits the giver in many ways (physical, mental, spiritual).
9) Discipline with love - Children need to have some simple and realistic boundaries that are enforced. Discuss these boundaries with your child and make sure they understand the consequences of their actions. When boundaries are crossed, separate the action from the child and punish the action, not the child. Always be fair, open-minded and reasonable.
10) Allow your child to make mistakes - Teach your child that life isn't perfect and that they will fail sometimes. Help them when they struggle, but they need to learn that failure happens and they have to work through some things by themselves. When your child does fail, support them and discuss how they can improve the next time.