Self-Esteem is the collection of pictures children carry around about who they are and how they fit in. It’s formed early in life and is related to how and what parents communicate with their children, both through words and actions.
Children form healthy self-esteem beliefs about themselves when they get the message that their parents believe they are capable, and when they have opportunities to demonstrate their capability. Being allowed to contribute and be part of decision making helps children thrive.
Children can develop unhealthy self-esteem when they think they are loved conditionally, and when parents do everything for them so they never get a chance to experience being capable.
As you can see, parents can have a huge influence on the unconscious beliefs children form about themselves. Here are some suggestions to encourage positive self-esteem in your children:
- Never, ever call your children names.
- Listen to and validate your child’s feelings.
- Avoid the use of praise.
- Children need validation and to know their opinions are listened to and taken seriously.
- Don’t compare children to each other.
- Practice unconditional love, regardless of behaviour.
- Have regular family meetings to hear children’s opinions and have them participate in problem solving.
- Spend special time alone with each of your children. Remind them how they are special.
- Don’t play favourites.
- Remember to have fun with your children.
Excerpt from Nelsen, Jane, Lott, Lynn, & Glenn, Stephen, (2007). Positive Discipline A-Z: 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems. New York, N.Y.: Three Rivers Press. Pg. 224-225