What is self-esteem?
For children, self-esteem means knowing that they are loved and accepted by the people around them in their community. The formation of self-esteem begins very early in a child’s life and it should be cultivated as they grow.
Why does self-esteem matter? How does it affect the learning and development of other skills?
A child’s self-esteem grows with each positive experience they are presented with. It is therefore important for children to take ownership of their learning and doing things independently. For example, caregivers should provide the opportunity for a young toddler to attempt tasks such as taking off his/her own shoes, although it may take some waiting time for them to do it themselves. With our patience, positive reinforcement and guidance, a child will grow and experience success. This in turn will help build up a child to believe that they can handle their responsibilities well.
How does self-esteem develop?
Self-esteem is also about learning to accept ourselves with our challenges. Loving oneself is the fundamental basis of good self-esteem. It is also important for parents to express love and help build a child’s self-esteem.
How can parents help their children in building self-esteem?
Parents are encouraged to help their children to feel capable and loved by:
- Spending quality time with your child, and listening to them
- Acknowledging your child when they share their feelings and experiences with you
- Creating opportunities for your child to experience success, and praise them when they do
- Allowing your child a feeling of ownership in things that they can do for themselves, such as feeding themselves
- Expressing to your child that you love them and praising them specifically for things that they do well (e.g., I am so proud of you for playing nicely with your sister!)
- Setting a good example yourself by having a positive outlook of yourself.
What are the things that can damage a child’s self-esteem?
Each child is unique in their own ways. As adults, we must appreciate each single child as an individual self. Accepting them fully is very important. Finally, always respect your children the way you want to be respected. Their emotional well being is important. To bring up happy children, developing positive self-esteem is crucial. With positive self-esteem, a child will also be able to experience much more success in their lives.