In a world where social media, mainstream news outlets, and celebrity updates are at our fingertips, maintaining healthy self-esteem, for children and adults alike, can feel nearly impossible. From a young age, we are often told how we should look, what is considered “cool” and how social status will lead us down the path to success by society. This unhealthy media portrayal of what life is supposed to be like can really take a hit on a person’s self-esteem levels, especially if they are developing children. Self-esteem is the view your children have about themselves. It boils down to how important they consider themselves versus the rest of the world. Positive self-esteem is an essential building block to overall healthy life.
Why is positive self-esteem so important to growing children?
Positive self-esteem is one the most important aspects of healthy social and emotional development in children. Self-esteem allows your child to build and exude confidence, know that they are capable of reaching their goals and take pride in what they bring to the table. They are generally proud of their accomplishments and excited to tackle challenges that they are faced with. Positive self-esteem allows children to become more independent and self-motivated when taking on new tasks and responsibilities at home, at school and in any extracurricular activities they are involved in. Children with positive self-esteem are more likely to stand up for themselves in difficult situations and reach out to their peers, teachers, or family members for help and support when they need it.
When children have positive self-esteem they:
- Take responsibility for their actions.
- Stand up for themselves.
- Feel confident in everyday situations.
- Speak their mind freely.
- Participate more in class and extracurricular activities.
- Support their friends and family members.
- Make good decisions.
- Are more independent.
- Are more open to building stronger relationships with their friends and family.
What does negative self-esteem look like in children?
Many children struggle with negative self-esteem at one point or another throughout their childhood. Negative self-esteem can arise from many factors, including, media influences, social media, peer pressure and difficulty in school. Due to rising insecurities, their overall level of self-esteem diminishes over time, pushing them to be less sure of themselves in all facets of life. Basic life skills can become cumbersome to them and feel overwhelming. When they do receive praise, their negative self-esteem thoughts can interfere with their mood, causing them to believe they are not worthy of the praise received, or question whether it was genuine.
Children with low self-esteem may:
- Lose interest in learning, extracurricular activities and events they use to enjoy.
- Find it difficult to make and keep friends.
- Become a target for bullying.
- Give into peer pressure easily.
- Become sad, upset or angry more easily.
- Struggle with simple challenges.
- Not seek help with struggling as feelings of shame and embarrassment can arise.
- Be less open with their parents about their thoughts, feelings, worries and fears.
- Avoid celebrating accomplishments as they feel they are unworthy of recognition.
- Quit tasks easily with big feelings of defeat.
How can I support my child and build positive self-esteem?
Even if your child doesn’t have an overflowing level of high self-esteem, helping them build up their confidence is possible. As a parent, your support and trust play pivotal roles in how they view themselves in the world. The confidence you exude onto them will reflect right back out.
Ways to help your child build healthy self-esteem include:
- Being a positive role model.
- Emphasizing their strengths openly and celebrating them often.
- Providing positive feedback on a job well done.
- Praising your child for all of their accomplishments, big and small.
- Encouraging them to learn new skills and try new things.
- Avoiding criticism and using bad behavior moments as teachable times instead of punishment.
- Involving your child in daily tasks that help build independence and overall confidence.
Self-esteem is a life pillar that is worked on throughout the entirety of one’s existence. Helping your child lean into feelings of confidence and security while allowing them to be independent will help them grow up with a healthy air of self-esteem to face challenges and stand up for themselves in difficult situations. Building healthy self-esteem together will also help your child make and grow viable friendships through the years. Act as their support system and communicate often about what self-esteem means and how it is important to their livelihoods as children and adults.