Happy and optimistic children are generally more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. These children tend to have a much easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. Kids with a low self-esteem tend to find even the smallest of challenges, quite frustrating. These kids do not believe in themselves and tend to shy away from any challenge. In general, they battle to find solutions to problems and their immediate response to any tough situation is "I can't."
How to identify a low self-esteem
Kids with low self-esteem don't want to try new things and get frustrated quickly. They tend to give up easily and always look to someone else to help out or take over. They get disappointed quickly and are often critical. On the other hand, kids with a healthy self-esteem tend to enjoy interacting with others. They are comfortable in social settings and enjoys group activities. When challenges arise, they try to find a solution. They are optimistic, know their strengths and weaknesses, and accept them.
What can you do to help foster a healthy self-esteem?
These tips can make a big difference:
Watch what you sayKids tend to be sensitive to what they hear, especially from their parents. Praise your child not only for a job well done, but also for the effort put in.
Be a positive role modelIf you are tough on yourself and unrealistic about your abilities and limitations, chance are good that your kids will eventually mirror you. Nurture your own self-esteem and give them a great role model.
Set realistic standardsIt's important for parents to identify the beliefs of a childs belief that are not realistic. These could be about being perfect , pretty or their general ability. Helping your kids to set more realistic standards will help them build a more positive self-esteem.
Love them unconditionallyLove automatically boosts a child's self-esteem. Give them hugs and tell them how proud you are of them. Give praise but be honest. Try not to over-do it, you don't want them believing that they are better than everyone else!
Give positive feedbackAcknowledge your child's feelings first, then congratulate them on the choice they made and encourage them to make the right choice the next time around. For example, instead of saying "You always get yourself so worked up!" rather try something like "I can see you are very angry with your brother, but I am glad that you talked to him about it instead of yelling at him."
Create a safe, loving home environmentKids who feel safe in their home environment have the potential to really thrive. They feel like they're in control of their environment which also makes them feel secure and happy.
Encourage them to helpAny activity that encourages co-operation rather than competition will foster self-esteem. Getting your older children to help a little one read or getting them to volunteer in your local community are great ways to encourage this.
When promoting healthy self-esteem, it's important to find the healthy middle ground - not too much or too little but "just enough." Make sure your kids don't end up feeling that if they're average or normal at something, it's the same as not being good or special. Also have a look at some of the other Active Learning articles from OMO for more great advice that will ensure your child grows up to be a happy and well-rounded individual.