Self-esteem represents an aspect of self-cognition that reflects one’s perceptions about oneself. This self-esteem is shaped not only by an individual’s own perceptions and expectations but also by the significant people in their lives. This includes how they are thought of and treated by parents, siblings, teachers, and friends. These perceptions are formed through the evaluation of one’s own personal attributes and the internalization of the evaluations of others. The closer their perceived self (how they see themselves) comes to their ideal self (how they would like to be), the higher their self-esteem.
As parents we need to develop children with high self-esteem characterized by tolerance and respect for others, children who accept responsibility for their actions, have integrity, take pride in their accomplishments, who are self-motivated, willing to take risks, capable of handling criticism, loving and lovable, seek the challenge and stimulation of worthwhile and demanding goals, and take command and control of their lives. In other words, we need to develop children who have healthy or authentic self-esteem because they trust their own being to be life affirming, constructive, responsible and trustworthy.
Children with a healthy sense of self-esteem feel that their parents accept them, care about them, and would go out of their way to ensure that they are safe and well. They feel that their parents would be upset if anything happened to them and would miss them if they were separated. On the other hand, children with low self-esteem feel that the important adults and peers in their lives do not accept them, do not care about them very much, and would not go out of their way to ensure their safety and well-being.
Most of the time, children with high self-esteem will make friends easily, show enthusiasm for new activities, be cooperative and follow age-appropriate rules, control their behaviour, play by themselves and with other children, like to be creative and have their own ideas, be happy, full of energy, and talk to others without much encouragement.
While most of the time, children with low self-esteem will say things like “I can’t do anything well.” “I know I can’t do it.” “I know that I will fail.” “I don’t like me.” “I wish I were someone else.” For positive self-esteem, children need to be educated by their parents on how to develop or acquire some or all of the following characteristics:
A sense of security
You must educate your child on how to feel secure about themselves and their future. Teach them to always ask her/himself this question “What will become of me?”
A sense of belonging
Parents must teach their children how to feel accepted and loved by others, beginning with the family and then extending to friends, schoolmates, sports teams, religious group, neighborhood or community at large. Without this social acceptance or identity, a child may feel rejected, lonely, and aimless without a “home,” “family” or “social group.”
A sense of purpose
You child must be educated on how to set solid and achievable goals that give them purpose and direction and an avenue for channelling their energy toward achievement and self-expression. If your child lacks a sense of purpose, she may feel bored, aimless, and even resentful at being pushed in certain directions by you or others.
A sense of personal competence and pride.
Train your child to feel confident in their ability to face life challenges. This ability evolves from having successful life experiences in solving problems independently, being creative and getting results for their efforts. A critical thing in developing competence and confidence is by setting appropriate expectations and goals that are achievable. Don’t over protect your child; don’t make them over dependent on you; and don’t expect too much from them. If expectations are too high, it will result in them feeling powerless and not capable of controlling circumstances she might find herself.
A sense of trust.
You need to teach your child to trust you and themselves. Keep your promise anytime you make one. Treat your child as an honest person by believe the things they say or do.
A sense of responsibility.
Give them opportunities to show what they are capable of doing. Allow your child to take on tasks without being monitored at all the time. This shows them that you trust and have faith in them.
A sense of making real choices and decisions
Give your child a chance to make decisions that they consider important. The child will feel in control of life. But note that the decisions must be appropriate for their age and abilities, and for the family’s values.
A sense of encouragement, support, and reward
You need to pass a message to your child that they are doing well. Every child needs a positive feedback and recognition when they achieve something. Encourage your child for their efforts and improvements, not only when they achieve a specific goal or target. Positive feedback, encouragement, and praise reinforce self-esteem.
A sense of accepting mistakes and failure
In life, there is always a time we fail or make mistakes, teach your child how to cope with it. Your child needs to feel comfortable, not defeated. Educate them that mistakes and failing are normal part of living and learning. Renew your child’s motivation and hope anytime they fail.
Check out our children’s book below and a list of additional books that will help in building a positive self-esteem in your child:
- 89 Children’s Books by P. K. Hallinan. The book has sold over 8 million copies worldwide and is available on Amazon.
- Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for the Young Child by Cathy Martin
- Growing Up with a Bucket Full of Happiness by Carol McCloud
- How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath.