Building Healthy Self-Esteem in Children
A healthy self-image, self-esteem and self-confidence go hand in hand. A problem with one can affect the overall development of the others. It could mean the difference between a child appropriately dealing with his/her problems or developing maladaptive behaviors
Coincidentally, the three terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but many people do not understand the term “self-esteem.” Researchers content that self-esteem is usually acquired early in life and it continues to change based on one’s life experiences. Simply put it is a collection of perceptions and beliefs that we have about our self. This includes the good and bad beliefs, which is why it fluctuates. Self-esteem can also be shaped by relationships with others and our environment.
According to the National Association for Self Esteem, a younger child’s self-esteem is often shaped by how the parent reacts to him/her. As the child ages, perceptions shift. Then peers and the world become a bigger influence. This is another reason why it’s important to praise children when they do well or accomplish a difficult task.
As parents, we are equipped with the necessary tools to help our children become resilient and build healthy self-esteems. However, this will require parents to be more aware of the messages are children encounter. Children are like sponges and they receive message whether intention or unintentional. Therefore, it is important for parents to assess their parenting style, be better listeners, be non-judgmental and build a trusting relationship.
Receiving criticism can be difficult, so be mindful when discussing sensitive issues with your teen. Constantly expressing disapproval can cause him/her to be overly critical of themselves which could lead to more problems. Basic necessities like, praise and affection can boost self-esteem and increase a teen’s capacity to deal with life.
Signs of a Healthy Self-Esteem:
Think positive thoughts about themselves Forgive themselves if they make mistakes Possesses the ability to adequately cope with life changes Are not concerned about perfectionism Will set meaningful goals & follow through Does not feel the need to criticize others Enjoy helping others
Signs of an Unhealthy Self-Esteem:
A person may try to live up to the expectations of others He/she may use drugs and/or drink alcohol Engage in a negative self-talk Being afraid to try new things A lack of confidence
May refuse to take responsibility for his/her actions
Finally, if you are your teen are struggling with low self-esteem or self-worth, take the steps necessary to improve your belief system. Start the process by saying “STOP” to your negative thoughts or inner critic. NEVER label yourself, and be ACCEPTING of who you are. You have a purpose in life. If necessary, seek professional help or contact a counselor or mental health professional in your area. Visit the National Association for Self-Esteem (NASE) website for more resources. You may also want to visit the Respect RX website.
Dr. Arlether Wilson is the author of the award winning memoir, “Rewriting the Script,” and one of the Best Selling authors of the 20 Beautiful Women movement. To learn more about Dr. Wilson visit http://www.arletherwilson.com.