Self- Esteem and your child

Posted by Varsha Sanghavi on Sat, Jan 21, 2012  
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Children are not born with self-esteem. It is learned through how parents and other important people feel about them, and treat them.


Self-esteem means you really like yourself, both inside and out. Self-esteem means loving and feeling good about you unconditionally. It is that feeling at the center of your being of self-worth, self-confidence, and self-respect.


Authentic self -esteem is based on the self -respect that emanates from external reality. It does not come from internal fantasies fed by well-intentioned parents showering their kids with unearned praise. High or Low Self-esteem may arise in the child from praises which are not proportionate to the child’s achievement.


For e.g. if a child is unduly praised for an act, which is not justifiable, it creates a false sense of pride in the child, which crashes when the child faces the world of reality, where he finds his peers who are more efficient and talented then him and don’t get the same sort of approval to which they were used to in their little world of fantasy built by their family.


Or a Child, who is not encouraged, for the efforts put in by him will never know his worth. The confidence with which the child faces the world would be purely based on what others think of him. He would not be able to judge his true capabilities. A constant sense of approval from the external world would be seeked.


In both ways a child evolves as an individual which is detrimental for his mental and Physical growth.


Why does it matter?

Well it does matter, for it’s more important for the child to be emotionally balanced, than to be grown up as an individual who doesn’t have its own identity, who is highly impressionable, and seeks constant approval from the outside world about the approval of his identity.


Teens who feel good about themselves are more likely to grow into young adults who feel better about their health. Positive wellbeing is also associated with fewer risky health behaviors such as smoking and physical inactivity.


It is quite common for parents to glorify their child’s efforts. We always want to believe that our child is the most gifted amongst others, and try to extrapolate the child’s achievements to his/ her future status.


My contention here is not that I am trying to say that we should not appreciate our child, but what I try to emphasize here is once the child is preparing to face the world, prepare him to face the reality, make him aware of the extended family aka world of which we are a part of it, and the rules of the so called extended family; to make him better equipped to handle any situation with grace and dignity.


The confrontation with the facts will help him to be a better and a confident person, who will know his limitations and strengths and will not be scared to face them with challenge and improve on the shortcomings and the skill sets processed. Positive Self-esteem would enable them to try new things without too much fear of failing, to reach out and make friends, and to manage problems they are likely to meet along the way.


Our aim as parents should use Positive reinforcement in order to boost up the self-esteem and confidence in a child.


Positive reinforcement helps the child to see his mistakes and encourages to overcome the mistakes and improve further better. Positive self-esteem gives them the courage to be their own person, believe in own values and make the right decision when the pressure is on.  Don't let your child beat themselves up over their weaknesses. Don't compare your child to others. It's hard at times, but accept your child and help him love himself, the way he is. The child if prepared in the right manner, in the initial formative years of life will be much well equipped individuals to handle criticism in a positive manner and appreciation not in an overconfidence manner.


 We should also not forget to sensitize our child to others short comings. Help them learn to be patient with their friends and family when they fall short of expectations .A balanced Self-esteem builds a solid foundation for coping with life


What should parents do?

  • Self-esteem is very important for everyone
  • Children are not born with self-esteem
  • Young children learn self-esteem through what they can do and through what their parents think of them.
  • 'Put down' messages really damage self-esteem.
  • 'Doing' messages such as giving time, hugs and smiles are very important in building self-esteem.
  • Laugh with your children – not at them.
  • Keep giving sincere and the right messages that build self-esteem to your teenagers, even if they say they don't believe you. These messages matter.
  • Self-esteem is learned and can be changed.
  • Take care of your own self-esteem.



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