Building Self-esteem in Children

The problem of low self-esteem in children has really become a pretty big one amongst the youth in the United States. So let me discuss how parents can help building self-esteem in children.
Research suggests that the problem of low self-esteem usually starts from childhood itself. Some unfortunate events in the person's childhood, trigger off the problem of low self-esteem in them. Low self-esteem signs can be seen mainly because of two things. Physical appearance has a big part to play in the low self-esteem problem. If a child feels that he/she is not good looking, he/she is going to have the problem of low self-esteem. The other reason is bullying and criticism. If a child is continuously criticized, teased or bullied, chances are that the child will suffer from a low self-esteem problem. And it doesn't end there. The child will get caught in a low self-esteem cycle as it will never feel assured to do something that might raise his/her esteem. And thus the feeling of incompetency will be compounded.

The good news is that it is a lot easier than correcting this problem in an adult. A few changes in parenting style and giving your children a bit of feel-good feeling goes a long way in building their morale and developing self-esteem in children.

How to Build Self-esteem in Children

Give them Attention:A feeling of pride and self-esteem has to be inculcated in a person from his childhood. There are several things that parents can do to instill confidence in children. The most important thing to do is to give children attention so that you can help. Most children would feel left out if their parents don't give them attention and this feeling of being neglected will create a low levels of confidence in them.

Stop Comparisons: Usually parents set a high performance benchmark for their children in the hope that later in life, they will become competitive and be able to handle the rat-race. But sometimes, parents go overboard by setting unachievable targets and are quite unaccommodating with failure. This drives the children into a shell and they get a feeling of uselessness and low self worth when they do not succeed. Hence, first you have to analyze the child's competency and set benchmarks accordingly.

Praise: Bouquets too should follow and not just brickbats. If the child performs exceptionally well, the parents should shower the child with praise. This builds their confidence and provides them the much-needed motivation. Just being criticized for faults and not being appreciated leads to the problem of low self-esteem.

Social Circle: Keep a tab on your child's social circle. Make sure that your child has good competitive company that spurs him on. If he is continuously bullied, he will be dropped by other kids at school like a hot potato which will make the child lonely. Hence, you have to ensure that the child has a good network of like-minded kids around him.

Sports: It is well-known that kids who perform well at sports generally have a high self-confidence. This point is also a follow-up on the previous one about a good social circle of like-minded people. Playing sports and excelling at them will make your children competitive as well as help in raising self-esteem in children.

Responsibility: Parents have to make sure that children are able to act independently and be able to take their own decisions. Hence, some level of responsibility should be given to them so that they are able to work on their own. If they are able to do the small daily duties at home too, they will feel pretty good about themselves and this will build their self-assuredness and in turn, their self-esteem too.

Of course, the actions are meant to be encouraged by not only the parents, but the child's teachers and relatives too. Maintaining a healthy and positive environment while still giving the child free space to encourage individual thinking is one of the best things a parent can do.
By Arjun Kulkarni
Bouquets and Brickbats