Children learn and grow when they try new things, face challenges and bounce back. With high self-esteem, children will be able to get good performance more efficiently. This is why parents should do their best to develop a child’s self-esteem.
This article will go through knowledge about self-esteem in children, how it is developed, and 5 effective ways parents can do to help build a child’s self-esteem.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem refers to a person’s overall sense of value or worth. It can be considered a measure of how much a person “values, approves of, appreciates, prizes, or likes him or herself” (Adler & Stewart, 2004).
Children with self-esteem:
- are able to tackle obstacles
- are proud of what they can do
- develop self-assurance and is confident
Children with low self-esteem:
- feel a lack of confidence and constantly compare themselves to other children
- may say things like “I can’t do that” or feel hard on themselves
- are not inclined to try new experiences
How Self-Esteem Develops
Self-esteem evolves over time through observations and interactions with those in their surroundings, including parents, siblings and peers. For example, preschoolers may start to compare themselves with others and might ask whether they’re the strongest, fastest, or best at whatever they do which is completely normal.
As children grow up and interact with society, they will foster a wider understanding of themselves from observing the behaviour and feedback of older people around them.
Here are five effective ways parents can help boost their child’s self-esteem:
Set Realistic Expectations
Children need you to tell them what they can and cannot do. They need you to educate them and give them instructions so they know right and wrong. Your realistic expectations and boundaries are important for kids.
Based on that, children will act within the allowed framework and tend to act appropriately.
Parents can help children set achievable goals and celebrate their progress. Unrealistic expectations can lead to feelings of inadequacy and disappointment. You encourage them to focus on personal growth and effort rather than comparing themselves to others.
Unconditional Love and Support
Believe it or not, even a simple hug holds immense significance for a child! Through this gesture, they perceive their worth and experience a profound sense of being cherished, contributing to the gradual development of their self-esteem.
It's crucial for parents to consistently convey love and unwavering support to their children. This assurance reinforces the understanding that affection is not contingent upon accomplishments or victories, but rather rooted in their individuality.
Being a steadfast presence during both moments of triumph and adversity, you provide unwavering encouragement and empathetic comprehension. Your enduring support nurtures their emotional growth and resilience.
Avoid Harsh Criticism
There is nothing worse than lowering a child’s self-esteem than criticism!
The messages children hear from others easily translate into how they feel about themselves. Harsh words (“You’re so stupid!”) are harmful to your child. When children hear negative messages about themselves, it destroys their self-esteem.
In instances where your child may make a mistake, it's important to respond with patience. Guiding your child, you can direct their attention toward the desired course of action for the future.
Practice Positive Reinforcement
Life is a series of discoveries, each contributing to your child's unique journey of experimentation and discovery. This expedition serves as a platform for them to recognize their capabilities, ultimately nurturing a robust self-assurance.
A beneficial approach involves tuning into your child's passions. For instance, you could frequent the library to procure books centered around their favorite subjects or engage in joint activities like constructing with blocks, solving puzzles, swimming, cycling or seaside escapades – whatever resonates with their interests.
In this manner, you become a source of affirmative reinforcement throughout their explorative experiences. By acknowledging and commending their endeavors and accomplishments, regardless of scale, you foster an environment of encouragement and validation.
Be specific in your praise, pointing out what they did well and why you’re proud of them! Questions like ‘Did you give it a good try?’ or ‘Did you have fun?’ are better than ‘Did you win?’. By doing so, you communicate to your child that their exertion and journey are cherished more than the eventual outcomes. This, in turn, encourages your child to be more open to attempting endeavors in the future.
Provide a Safe Environment for Expression
When children are allowed to make choices, they feel more powerful, says Victoria Sopik, CEO of corporate childcare service Kids and Company and mother of eight.
You could allow your child to take on age-appropriate responsibilities and make decisions. When they accomplish these tasks independently, it boosts their sense of competence and self-worth. Even when errors occur, provide them with encouragement to glean valuable lessons from these instances, rather than criticizing or assuming control.
Let your child explore their environment, but be ready to respond if they need you. For example, your child might be fascinated by an ant but gets frightened when it crawls on their foot. Your child needs you to let them know that it’s ok.
Parents have the ability to foster an inclusive and nurturing environment at home, where children are at ease sharing their thoughts, emotions, and worries without apprehension of criticism. You engage in active listening and acknowledge their feelings, even if your perspective might differ at times.
Nurturing self-esteem equips your children with the resilience to navigate challenges and persevere, even in the face of initial setbacks. Consequently, fortified self-esteem empowers children to excel academically, thrive at home, and flourish in their future endeavors.
It's essential to bear in mind that fostering self-esteem is a continuous journey, tailored to each child's distinct nature. Approach this process with patience, empathy, and unwavering dedication, as you guide their emotional maturation.