Self-Esteem in Children: How Parents Can Help
By Natalie Jewell
Self-esteem is a term used for how people feel about themselves. This can be related to what they perceive strengths and weaknesses to be, whether it be academically, athletically, socially, and even physically. This is not only true in adults. Children may have issues with self-esteem as well.
Healthy self-esteem generally makes for a happier, more confident child, whereas poor self-esteem can often make them feel down and full of self-doubt. Basically, it can affect one's mental health and by default, their ability to feel joy, interact positively with others, and exercise their full potential in life. Prolonged low self-esteem can even lead to larger problems, such as depression, anxiety, and drug or alcohol abuse.
Being Good Parents
So, what are some things we as parents can do to try to help develop healthy self-esteem in our children?
Children need to feel seen, heard, accepted and loved to build self-esteem. Put down your phone and show interest in your child and what they are saying and doing. Let them guide play and be in the moment with them.
Provide structure and be consistent with enforcing rules appropriate for your child's age. This helps him or her feel safe and secure, as they know what is expected of them. If they know what the consequences of their actions will be, they can then be left to make choices -- hopefully, good ones. Being given the power to make decisions builds confidence.
Provide your child with responsibilities around the home by assigning age-appropriate chores. Even a toddler can help put away their toys. Older children can dust, set the table, or take out the trash. This teaches them that they are capable and are an important part of the family.
Encourage them to take healthy risks by trying new things and pursuing their interests. Praise them but don't overdo it just for showing up, as this takes away from the successes they have that took real effort. Leading your child to believe they are the most talented person in the world sets them up for disappointment down the road. They need to be able to accept constructive criticism.
Help your child learn from their mistakes and solve problems. Being able to solve problems on their own helps them have confidence in their own decision-making abilities as they get older. For example, let them choose what they wear. If it's raining, and they choose not to wear rubber boots, they'll learn soon enough that getting their feet wet isn't pleasant and will hopefully know better for the next time.
Model good behavior by not putting yourself or others down when mistakes are made, looks are less than perfect, or talents aren't the same as everyone else's. For example, if your child hears you complaining about your weight and saying that nobody will like you because of it, they'll feel that they should feel the same way if they aren't super slim.
And last but not least, make sure your child knows that your love is unconditional and that this will remain true even when they fail or make less than stellar decisions in life -- that it's OK to be perfectly imperfect.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Farmington.