Self Esteem is Everything

Self Esteem is Everything

by Kathy Green

Never underestimate the power of self esteem in your child's life.

Why is self esteem so important?

Healthy self-esteem is like a child's armour against the challenges of the world. Kids who know their strengths and weaknesses and feel good about themselves seem to have an easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. They tend to smile more readily and enjoy life. These kids are realistic and generally optimistic. In contrast, kids with low self-esteem can find challenges to be sources of anxiety and frustration. Those who think poorly of themselves have a hard time finding solutions to problems. They may become passive, withdrawn, or depressed. Faced with a new challenge, their immediate response might be "I can't.

What is self esteem?

Self-esteem is similar to self-worth (how much a person values himself or herself). This can change from day to day or from year to year, but overall self-esteem tends to develop from infancy and keep going until we are adults. Self-esteem also can be defined as feeling capable while also feeling loved. A child who is happy with an achievement but does not feel loved may eventually experience low self-esteem. Likewise, a child who feels loved but is hesitant about his or her own abilities can also develop low self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem comes when a good balance is maintained.

How can parents and caregivers build self esteem in children?

Whether you are the parent of a 2 year old or a 22 year old, you have the opportunity of helping to build their self esteem. Patterns of self-esteem start very early in life. The feeling of success following effort and persistence starts early.

  1. You can promote healthy self-esteem by showing encouragement and enjoyment in many areas. Avoid focusing on one specific area; for example, success on a spelling test, which can lead to kids feeling that they're only as valuable as their test scores.

  2. Be careful of what you say. Kids can be sensitive to parents' and others' words. Remember to praise your child not only for a job well done, but also for effort. But be truthful. For example, if your child doesn't make the soccer team, avoid saying something like, "Well, next time you'll work harder and make it." Instead, try "Well, you didn't make the team, but I'm really proud of the effort you put into it."

  3. Reward effort and completion instead of outcome.

  4. Use warmth and humour to help your kids learn about themselves and to appreciate what makes them unique.

Taking responsibility and pride in who they are is a sure sign of healthy self-esteem and is the greatest gift parents can give to their child.