“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on.”Maxwell Maltz

What is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem refers to a person’s overall sense of his or her value or worth. It can be considered a sort of measure of how much a person “values, approves of, appreciates, prizes, or likes him or herself”  – Adler & Stewart, 2004

In simple words, it is described as a favourable or unfavourable attitude towards self. It is how an individual determines his or her own capacity. The development of self-esteem begins from an early age and is very sensitive to the changes in the close environment of the individual.

It is very important for parents to be careful in understanding and improving the self-esteem of their children in their growing years. Not stressing on it at the right time could result in low self-esteem issues amongst their children.

Here are a few key indicators to identify low self-esteem amongst children:

  • The constant negative talk
  • Non-acceptance of compliments/ positive traits
  • Peer problems
  • Poor academic performance
  • Giving up easily
  • Low on motivation
  • Irritated and agitated

Here are a few steps that parents can take to build their child’s self-esteem:

  1. Make your child understand their self-worth: It is very crucial for children to appreciate themselves. Valuing themselves does not necessarily mean they have to demean their peers or their siblings. All they have to do is appreciate their talents, their positive traits by themselves so they feel better about themselves. This will establish a strong foundation for enhanced self-esteem.
  2. Encourage Healthy Risk-taking within your child: Parents can help children identify their true potential by encouraging them to take more risks in their lives. They need not be risks that hamper their well-being but calculated risks that make them stretch themselves holistically. Parents could make their child push his limits from time to time. It creates a sense of achievement in the child’s mind which further boosts his morale. Motivated morale leads to heightened self-esteem in the long run.
  3. Let the child make mistakes: Parents have to learn to let their children make their own mistakes. Constantly scrutinizing a child’s habits, correcting them, poking them incessantly will only hamper their child’s confidence. Parents need to understand that nobody is perfect and their child is as prone to make one as they would have been if they were his age. So it is crucial for parents to not dampen their child’s spirit if they commit any mistakes or face any failures. Instead, support them and encourage them to do better the next time.
  4. Stop comparing your child’s progress: One of the toxic habits which parents should give up is comparing their child’s progress with other children. Parents need to understand that every child is unique, each child’s ability to cope with things is difficult. Comparing their child’s progress and forcing their child to reach a certain benchmark based on external societal standards hampers the child’s esteem to a great extent. They start to suffer from inferiority complex and may carry this idea about themselves in their adulthood as well. It also promotes unhealthy competition amongst the children and develops rivalry amongst their peers.
  5. Develop Healthy Communication with your child: Communication is the key to any healthy relationship and it works the best when raising children. Parents should become the best friends of children and make them feel comfortable to share their problems, hesitations and difficulties. Parents should constantly let their child know that they have their child’s back and they will always look after them. If the child knows that their parents are there to hear them out, they feel more confident and become closer to the parents. Parents should also make sure that they communicate positive encouragements to their child from time to time.
  6. Encourage your child to help in household chores: Children learn the best when they are included in household activities. Parents should ask their children to help them in more and more household chores and compliment them for undertaking them. This also boosts self-esteem to a great extent. It encourages them to take initiatives in an external environment as well.
  7. Explore Counselling for your Child: At times understanding your child’s mind could be a difficult task because of the generation gap and lack of right knowledge. At times like these, parents should seek professional help and visit a counsellor specializing in child mentality and psyche. There are many counsellors in India who excel in this. Supercounselor is one such portal that connects you to all the reliable counsellors in your locality.
  8. Entrust your child with Responsibilities: It is very crucial for parents to encourage their children to take up responsibility. It makes them take tasks seriously and helps in boosting their self-esteem on the successful accomplishments of those tasks. Children tend to gain more confidence when they know that they can handle responsibilities.

To build a child’s self-esteem parents have to be sensitive and observant towards the child’s need and behaviour. Self-esteem won’t just grow by good grades or exceptional academic milestones. The foundation of self-esteem is laid at home, from a really young age and parents treatment of their children can make or break their child’s self-esteem.

Positive self-esteem is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their child. If parents desire to teach their children self-esteem, constant encouragement is required in order to help him/her achieve sustainable emotional well-being.