Ever wondered why, when you visit any playground, you’ll ﬁnd tiny thrill-seekers hanging upside down on monkey bars or racing around leading packs of friends, just as you’ll notice shy tots who are too scared to even try the swings? As parents, we want to foster self-conﬁdence in our children while giving them the right tools to solve life’s problems.
Why is self-esteem so important? Award-winning youth motivational speaker and author Jeff Yalden explains that this is a personal evaluation of your own self-worth, so low self-esteem can develop in childhood and continue throughout adulthood.
Depressed children or those who feel incompetent ﬁnd it hard to realise their full potential. Not only that, they often use poor judgment to make decisions and are unable to maintain positive peer relationships. On the other hand, a person with too much self-esteem may also be a narcissist.
Children with low self-esteem may use poor judgement to make decisions and are unable to maintain positive peer relationships.
Lay the foundation for healthy self-esteem
This begins in the months following birth, when infants form emotional bonds with their caregivers. A baby interacts with his caregiver when he is fed, comforted, and when he engages in play or other activities. These are vital building blocks to developing positive self-esteem and social relationships.
As junior grows, experiences and new perceptions cause his self-esteem to ﬂuctuate. It expands when people acknowledge and show an appreciation for his feelings, so that he realises that he is worthy of being loved. So to boost your little one’s sense of self, use words of encouragement and positive actions, says Yalden:
1. Always be positive.
2. Always be reassuring.
3. Do allow your child to fail, and use it as a teachable moment.
4. Be consistent.
5. Explore potential strengths and passions.
Since you, as parents, play a crucial role in helping your children form accurate and healthy self-perceptions, be aware of the signs of healthy and unhealthy self-esteem. Those with a healthy self-esteem, Yalden says, tend to be conﬁdent, smile more readily, offer a ﬁrm handshake, make eye contact constantly and have a positive attitude.
In contrast, kids with an unhealthy self-esteem are passive, withdrawn and often hide in their rooms, he adds. They also use negative statements frequently like “I can’t do it” and some may even resort to bullying others.
Be firm but look out for junior’s needs
To discipline junior without destroying his self-esteem, set rules, but be ﬂexible enough to make adjustments where necessary. Avoid corporal punishment, Yalden advises. Don’t compare your child unfavourably with another, or make belittling comments. For example, avoid making negative statements about your child’s body size or weight.
Instead, recognise teachable moments to bring out the best in him, Yalden asserts. Boost their self-esteem by shifting the focus from their weight, such as by teaching them to pick up healthy skills. One simple remedy: You can boost junior’s self-esteem by displaying their photos or family portraits around the house. It sends the message that these people are important to one another.
Above all, love yourselves as you teach your child to love themselves — and you.
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