Self-esteem in children:

Put very simply self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves.  It’s how we describe and evaluate ourselves.

A child with a high self-esteem will describe himself or herself in positive terms and will feel confident and competent.  Low self-esteem has been associated with anxiety, social inadequacy, dependence and over-sensitivity to criticism.

Feedback crucial to the development of self-esteem has it’s origins in the parent-child relationship.  The impact of parental feedback in childhood is especially important as it happens at a time when the parents’ input carries considerably more weight because children have very little other feedback about themselves to compare it with.

A positive self-esteem is crucial to success and achievement (whether it be in academic, sporting or cultural fields):

Guidelines to boosting self-esteem in children:

  • Give your children unconditional positive regard.  Remember to emphasise the difference between them as people and their behaviour. Tell them that you might not always like what they DO,  but that you will always love THEM.
  • Provide children with opportunities to succeed
  • Encourage them to master new skills
  • Don’t be overly critical
  • Recognise their success.  Giving them a pat on the back and displaying a prize art-work on the fridge are important, but make sure that you also attend at least some of their sports matches and awards evenings so that you can experience their success first hand.
  • Help them set realistic goals.  Many children have wonderful ambitions, but often set unrealistic goals and then feel that they have failed completely when they cannot reach these goals.
  • Listen to your child
  • Spend time with your children and let them know that you enjoy their company
  • Respond to your child’s needs in an appropriate manner.  Children who have to constantly wait for you to finish your work before they can talk to you, will eventually begin to feel that they are not important to you.
  • Praise and compliment your children and try to “catch” them being good