Self-esteem can be defined as a person’s appraisal of his or her own value, or, to be more direct, is the way a person feels about themselves. Self-esteem starts to develop since the early childhood, from the time that babies learn how to crawl, stand or walk alone. Then, as children grow up, daily activities like using the toilet, or learning a new word, become important achievements that help them with their self-confidence.
All of these actions require some effort, and children start learning that if they conquer these simple actions, then they will likely accomplish more complex tasks in the future. Things like having a good group of friends, or getting good grades at school, are all affected by a child’s self-esteem.
Importance of good self-worth during childhood
The fact that self-esteem has a direct impact on so many relevant aspects of a child’s life turns it into a priority for parents. From the way a child acts every day, to the decisions he or she makes, a child that has a strong sense of self-worth is more likely to have a healthy life while growing up.
Due to the constant changes in their lives, children can feel under a lot of pressure. There is a myriad of new things a child will have to face every day. Going to classes, making new friends, body changes while growing up, and more difficult stuff like moving houses or changing schools can be hard for a child. The ability to face these issues is something that is closely related to how much self-worth a child has.
Also, even the decision of trying something new can be affected by self-esteem. That’s why parents need to be aware of what’s happening in their child’s life to identify possible self-esteem issues, but, of course, without being intrusive.
High self-esteem and low self-esteem: how to recognize it
The first step towards helping your little one is to identify the problem. Here are some characteristics in common for children with healthy self-esteem, and also some that are frequent in children with low self-esteem.
A child with good self-esteem is more likely to:
- Make friends easily. They are usually comfortable talking to new friends at the park, or at school.
- Try to figure things out for himself or herself. A child with self-confidence is more prone to try and solve an issue, or even ask for help when in need. This is healthy since it helps them become independent.
- Be proud of their achievements. Whether it is to learn a new language or to finally score a goal while playing football, a child with healthy self-esteem will learn to celebrate what he or she accomplishes.
- Adapt easily to new situations or sudden changes.
- Play on their own or participate in group activities.
- Deal better with peer pressure and strong emotions (both good and bad).
- Be less frustrated when something doesn’t go as expected.
- Recognize the good things about themselves and accept themselves exactly how they are.
A child with low self-esteem usually:
- Doesn’t think he or she is as good as others, which can impact a lot the way they feel.
- Has a hard time feeling accepted, or even liked. This makes their friendships become difficult.
- Tends to think more about their failures than their accomplishments. This discourages him or her to try and make amends and try again.
- Has a lot of self-criticisms, to the point where he or she is too hard on themselves, and puts a lot of pressure for even the smallest things.
- Has a deep lack of confidence, which doesn’t allow him or her to be fully themselves.
- Has difficulty making friends and talking to people.
Tips for building self-esteem in children
For parents, it’s crucial to know that every child is different. Each child has their own personality, outlook on life, and way to handle and do things. This is very important when trying to build a child’s self-esteem since parents have to recognize their child’s individuality. If you suspect that your child might have self-worth issues, then these few bits of advice might come in handy.
- Open a good communication channel with your little one, where he or she doesn’t feel afraid to go to you for advice. This is crucial for your relationship with your child in long-term as well.
- Praising your little one for everything he or she does might be more harmful than helpful Learn to recognize the best moments for praising, and leave it for those achievements that are truly remarkable, especially those ones that required effort. It’s better for a parent to focus on how hard a child works for something than just on results.
- Encourage your little one to be competent. This can be done by letting him or her take some risks, solve their own problems, finish what they start, and make their own choices. It’s important that you dedicate some time to help your child first when doing a task for the first, then allow your child to make mistakes and try on their own.
- Allow your child to demonstrate his or her abilities by letting them help around the house in their own ways, like helping make the beds, or cleaning the table. Over time, your child will learn how to help better and will feel good about themselves.
-. Encourage your child to pursue something they are interested in. If your little one likes drawing or playing the guitar, you as a parent should encourage this to help your little one become more confident and find their true interests later in life.
- Help your child set reachable goals. By reaching some goals easily, he or she will be more motivated to keep establishing more difficult goals as they grow up.
- Show your child unconditional love, no matter what. Some children are afraid of making mistakes, which in turns lowers their self-esteem and make them anxious because they’re afraid of failing. Remember your child that you’ll be there to help if they try to fix things up.